Bloomberg Businessweek’s new cover story, “How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars',” contains behind-the-scenes details on the $4.4 billion deal. The feature by Bloomberg Businessweek staff writer Devin Leonard is onbusinessweek.com now at http://buswk.co/DisneyStarWars
. The cover image, which features R2-D2 and Mickey Mouse, reads “Love at First Bleep,” and is below.
Bob Iger wants to secure Disney’s creative and competitive future at a time when consumers are inundated with entertainment choices, and Lucasfilm fits in perfectly with his strategy to acquire companies, such as Pixar and Marvel, which are capable of driving all of Disney’s businesses, from movies and television shows to theme parks, toys, and beyond. Lucas’s needs in this deal were more emotional. At 68, he was ready to retire and escape from the imaginary world he created—but has found that letting go is more difficult than he had anticipated.
Devin Leonard details how Lucas deeply respects what Iger has done with other corporate purchases – keeping the creative team in place and maintaining the culture. But Lucas still had his reservations and was reluctant to hand over scripts for the upcoming Star Wars trilogy to Disney until late in negotiations. In the story Iger makes it clear that Lucas’s advice will be welcomed going forward – Lucas has attended story meetings for the new Star Wars film – but that Disney, not Lucasfilm, would have final say over any future movies. Lucas also says which members of the original cast will appear in Episode VII, and Kathleen Kennedy discusses becoming President of Lucasfilms.
From the story:
*“Asked whether members of the original Star Wars cast will appear in Episode VII and if he called them before the deal closed to keep them informed, Lucas says, ‘We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ He pauses. ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.’”
*”In May 2011 Iger met Lucas for breakfast at the Hollywood Brown Derby, one of Disney World’s restaurants…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… ‘I’m not ready to pursue that now,’ he told Iger. ‘But when I am, I’d love to talk.’”
*Pablo Hidalgo, founding member of the Star Wars Fan Boy Association, who is now a “brand communication manager” at Lucasfilm gave Disney a tour of the Holocron which “lists 17,000 characters in the Star Wars universe inhabiting several thousand planets over a span of 20,000 years.”
*Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios: “We needed to have an understanding that if we acquire the company, despite tons of collegial conversations and collaboration, at the end of the day, we have to be the ones who sign off on whatever the plans are.”
*“At first Lucas wouldn’t even turn over his rough sketches of the next three Star Warsfilms. When Disney executives asked to see them, he assured them they would be great and said they should just trust him… Once Lucas got assurances from Disney in writing about the broad outlines of the deal, he agreed to turn over the treatments—but insisted they could only be read by Horn and Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president for corporate strategy. ‘We promised,’ says Iger. ‘We had to sign an agreement.’”
*“At the end of October, Iger arranged for Lucas to fly down to Disney’s Burbank headquarters and sign the papers. He thought Lucas seemed melancholy. ‘When he put that pen to the piece of paper, I didn’t detect a hesitation,’ Iger says. ‘But I did detect there was a lot of emotion. He was saying goodbye.’”
*“The day after the deal closed [Iger] went trick-or-treating with his family. ‘I was Darth Vader,’ he says.