With Disney agreeing to acquire Lucasfilm, expect to see greater integration of the Star Wars franchise into Disney products, including theme parks.
The $4.05 billion acquisition, announced Tuesday, enables Disney to acquire the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises as well as Lucasfilm's live-action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects and audio post-production businesses.
The acquisition furthers an existing partnership between Disney and Lucasfilm.
Disney’s theme parks in Orlando, Paris, Tokyo and Anaheim, Calif., already feature Star Wars attractions and content. Also, there is an Indiana Jones attraction at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.
"I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime," Lucasfilm founder George Lucas said in a statement. “Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment and consumer products."
Kathleen Kennedy, currently co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of Lucasfilm and will report to Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios.
Additionally, she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars and as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant.
Star Wars Episode 7 is slated for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga “well into the future,” according to Disney.
The Star Wars films have earned a total of $4.4 billion to date.
Lucasfilm is headquartered in San Francisco. The intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.
The board of directors at both Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is still subject to standard closing conditions.
Disney will pay approximately half of the transaction value in cash and will issue approximately 40 million shares at closing. Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.