Tag Archives: Lucasfilm

How Disney Bought Lucasfilm – Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story today about how Disney bought Lucasfilm. Here are some highlights:

  • Part of Iger’s strategy is to acquire companies that could be described as mini-Disneys such as Pixar and Marvel—reservoirs of franchise-worthy characters that can drive all of Disney’s businesses, from movies and television shows to theme parks, toys, and beyond.
  • Lucas’s needs were more emotional. At 68, he was ready to retire and escape from the imaginary world he created—but he didn’t want anybody to desecrate it.
  • “I’ve never been that much of a money guy,” Lucas says. “I’m more of a film guy, and most of the money I’ve made is in defense of trying to keep creative control of my movies.”
  • Lucas pitched the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles to Bob Iger, Chairman of ABC in the early 90’s. “It struggled,” Lucas says of Chronicles. “But [Iger] was very supportive of the whole thing.”
  • Regarding the criticism of the prequels, it got to Lucas. He found it difficult to be creative when people were calling him a jerk. “It was fine before the Internet,” he says. “But now with the Internet, it’s gotten very vicious and very personal. You just say, ‘Why do I need to do this?’ ” At the same time, Lucas was reluctant to entrust his universe to anyone else.
  • In purchasing Pixar, Iger personally negotiated the deal with Steve Jobs, who was then Pixar’s CEO. As part of the deal, Iger kept the creative team, led by John Lasseter, in place and allowed them to continue to operate with a minimum of interference in their headquarters near San Francisco. “Steve and I spent more time negotiating the social issues than we did the economic issues,” Iger says. “He thought maintaining the culture of Pixar was a major ingredient of their creative success. He was right.”
  • In 2009, Iger negotiated a similar deal for Disney to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Once again, Iger kept the leadership intact: Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter and Marvel studio chief Kevin Feige.
  • On the morning of the Star Tours opening at Walt Disney World, Iger met Lucas for breakfast at the Hollywood Brown Derby, one of Disney World’s restaurants. Then Iger inquired whether Lucas would ever consider selling his company. Lucas replied that he’d recently celebrated his 67th birthday and was starting to think seriously about retiring. So perhaps the sale of his company was inevitable. “I’m not ready to pursue that now,” he told Iger. “But when I am, I’d love to talk.”
  • The pieces had to be put in place before the deal could be made, specifically maintain some creative control/influence on the future. Kathleen Kennedy was placed in charge of Lucas Films. Michael Arndt was hired as the screenwriter for Episode VII and Ford, Hamill and Fisher were notified of Lucas’ pending retirement. Now Lucas was ready to approach Disney.
  • Lucas was adamant that Lucas creative executive were in charge. Iger agreed in theory but the Walt Disney Company had to have the ultimate say on the final product.
  • Lucas needed to have assurances that Disney would tell his stories and he has treatments of the next three films already written. Iger wanted to see them, but Lucas said he would have to trust him or he’d sell to someone else.
  • Once the papers, were signed, Iger when trick or treating with his family dressed as Darth Vader.
  • Lucas felt comfortable with Disney based on the way they handled the acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel.
  • Before the deal closed in late December, [Kennedy] reached out to J.J. Abrams’s agent to see if he would direct Episode VII. “He was very quick to say, ‘No, I don’t think I want to step into that,’ ” Kennedy says.
  • Kennedy persisted. She visited Abrams at the Santa Monica headquarters of Bad Robot, his production company, with Arndt and Kasdan. “By the time we finished, which was a couple of hours later, he had really gone 180 degrees,” she says. “To be involved in this next iteration of the Star Wars series is more exciting than I can talk about,” says Abrams.