Add Princess Leia to the team of Disney Princesses. The family entertainment giant, whose properties include Winnie the Pooh, Marvel, the Muppets, ABC, Pixar and ESPN, has agreed today to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd., creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises.
The synergies are obvious, from “Death Star” rides at Disney theme parks to new TV ventures, interactive games, R2D2 toys and film releases. “American Graffiti” hot rod carousels and “Howard the Duck” water flumes and "Willow" whack-a-dwarf arcades may have to wait a bit.
The most direct beneficiary of the transaction, valued at just above $4 billion, is George Lucas, Lucasfilm’s sole owner. But fans may benefit, too. Lucas has a genius for introducing iconic characters, but his creative engine sputters after a few films. Following their phenomenal launches, later Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones sagas disappointed many viewers (while remaining solidly profitable.)
Citing legal encumbrances involving “Indiana Jones” with Paramount, Disney will focus primarily on the “Star Wars” universe. A seventh installment is to be released in 2015, with 8 and 9 to follow. If the company is able to bestow a Pixar-like sheen on the new episode, it could breathe new life into a global film phenomenon that is currently dormant.
Be aware, though, that Lucas would stay on as a “creative consultant” for any more “Star Wars” pictures. We may yet see “The Revenge of Jar Jar Binks.”