The Force will always be with George Lucas. The brains behind the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series, Lucasfilm is one of the most successful independent movie studios in the history of film. Previously owned by filmmaker George Lucas, the company's productions have won a total of about 20 Academy Awards. Its most recent live action feature films are 2012's Red Tails and 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (in partnership with Paramount); 1999's Episode I -- The Phantom Menace is Lucasfilm's biggest money-maker. Other subsidiaries are responsible for licensing, special effects, and software. Created in 1971, Lucasfilm was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in late 2012.
Change in Company Type
In an announcement that caught Hollywood and Wall Street by surprise, Disney in late 2012 reported it was buying Lucasfilm from George Lucas for $4.06 billion in cash and stock. (It quickly closed the deal only months after the announcement.) The media conglomerate plans to leverage the Star Wars brand across its multiple platforms in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products. After the deal closed, George Lucas stepped down from leading the business he founded and now serves as a creative consultant.
A relationship between the two famous entertainment companies already existed, as Star Wars content has been integrated into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, and Tokyo. The Lucasfilm acquisition was the latest in a series of mega-deals for Disney -- the Mouse House previously acquired Pixar and Marvel in transactions designed to further expand the media giant's massive portfolio of entertainment brands and characters.
Lucasfilm consists of Lucasfilm Entertainment, also known as LucasArts (video games), special-effects house Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Skywalker Sound, Lucas Licensing (consumer products), Lucas Online (e-commerce, news, and information), and Lucasfilm Animation (digitally animated feature films and television productions). The divisions are all housed under one roof at the Letterman Digital Arts Center at the Presidio, a former Army base in San Francisco.
The company also has a presence in Asia with its Lucasfilm Singapore, its first overseas facility that produces digital animation for movies, TV, and games, as well as visual effects for feature films and multi-platform games. Lucasfilm Singapore is majority-owned by Lucasfilm, with the remainder held by a Singapore state-led consortium.
The 1999 film Episode I -- The Phantom Menace grossed more than $920 million worldwide. The next Star Wars film -- the seventh in the series -- is targeted for a 2015 release date, and more feature films are expected.
While in recent years things have been relatively quiet on the movie production front (with Red Tails being its sole new release), the company has been active in other ancillary areas in order to generate revenue. In 2011 it released The Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray -- a 9 disc set comprising all six films in the series -- in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Also in 2012 the company launched the massively multiplayer online videogame Star Wars: The Old Republic in partnership with Electronic Arts and BioWare. In other efforts to capitalize on Star Wars, Lucasfilm planned to re-release all the Star Wars movies in 3D. It first did so in 2012 with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D in a move that was designed to lure young fans -- who have only seen the movies on TV and DVD -- into movie theaters. However, Disney postponed plans for releasing any more Star Wars movies in 3D after it acquired Lucasfilm in late 2012.
On the TV side of things, Lucasfilm from 2008 to 2013 produced Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a TV show based on the 2008 animated film of the same name. It created the show, which aired on Cartoon Network, in partnership with Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting System. Disney ceased production of Star Wars: The Clone Wars in mid-2013; since then, Lucasfilm has announced it will produce a new TV show -- Star Wars Rebels -- set to debut on Disney XD in the fall of 2014.