So, George Lucas decides to sell Lucasfilm and all the associated companies to Disney. For over $4 billion.
As Yoda said, “Always in motion, the future is.”
Personally, I think Disney got a bargain. They paid almost half again as much for Pixar. And they got Lucasfilm (and all the rights to films produced by that company including Indiana Jones and the Star Wars franchise), Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound and Lucasarts, to name a few. And they get property rights to a lot of ground, too. Figure in all of the merchandise sold by various franchises and it comes to a pretty penny.
$4 billion ought to keep George happy and busy for a while. A nice little retirement.
But if you look back to why George was in Northern California and compare his own rise with that of Walt Disney, the tale has some interesting parallels.
Both spent time in a small town. Much so that they both call upon that experience for inspiration later on in life. With Walt, it was Marceline. With George, it was Modesto. With Walt, it was Disneyland. With George, “American Graffiti”.
Walt Disney did things the way he wanted. Making the pictures that appealed to him and the audiences he felt important. Not the ones that other studios made. George? Can one guess how this turns out.
You don’t need to know a great deal about the history of film to know that Lucas was one of the “Hollywood Mavericks” who did what they could to work outside of Hollywood. Gravitating to the San Francisco Bay Area, he and others with a passion for film found a home. One outside of the usual Hollywood that allowed them the freedom they sought. The kind of place that let Pixar and Lucasfilm become what they are today. They never would have done the same back in Southern California.
I have always wondered if Walt would have walked away in a similar fashion at some point. Had he lived to see Mineral King and the first phase of the Florida project completed, I think he might have looked forward to enjoying time with his family. Taking more the role of grandfather than studio boss and company chairman. He knew that he had good people in place and that they could have handled things without his direct control. With a timely transition, the company could have undergone a less tense change. Less bound by confusion and stymied as it wondered what Walt would do. Given a clearer goal, I think that things would have indeed been different.
In the now, one certainly gives Bob Iger credit. He first brought Pixar into the fold and now with Lucasfilm sets a course that should be clear enough to follow. Still the mystery of who will succeed him awaits, but safe to say, someone who shares the vision and is willing to stand his or her ground to get there.
Another good bet is that somewhere, fans can expect Disney to cash in with a theme park that places guests in the world of Star Wars. With so much to draw from, with such worlds awaiting, an all immersive experience can’t be overlooked. When it comes to theme parks, you have to imagine that there are people already hard at work coming up with ideas to make it the experience for the hardcore and casual fans, too.
Exciting times ahead, no doubt about it. At theme parks, in theaters and who knows what else?