Disney buys Lucasfilm: Five questions answered

Lucas passes the baton.

Director George Lucas has sold his Lucasfilms production company, responsible for the Star Wars franchise, to The Walt Disney company . We answer five questions on the deal.

What are the details of the deal?

George Lucas has sold his Lucasfilms production company responsible for the Star Wars and the Indiana Jones franchises, to Disney for $4.05bn (£2.5bn). Disney will pay about half in cash and half in stock, issuing 40 million of Disney shares in the transaction.

The deal follows Disney’s acquisition of Pixar and Marvel comics for $4.2bn in 2009.

Why is Lucas selling his film company now?

After launching Lucasfilms in 1971, and producing the first Star Wars film six years later, Lucas wants to pass on his franchise so it can continue to live on.

In a statement Lucas said: "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of film-makers."

Adding: "For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Mr Lucas said.

"I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime."

He will continue as creative consultant

What does Disney have planned for LucasFilms?

Disney plan to release a new Star Wars film in 2015, followed by episodes eight and nine and then one new movie every two or three years.

What has Disney said?

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” Robert A. Inger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company said in a statement.

"This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney's unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value."

What do the experts say?

Josh Dickey, film editor at Variety magazine in LA, told the BBC she believes Disney are the perfect company to take over Lucasfilm:

"They're so good at branding and brands. They're so good at working with existing intellectual property and making it resonate with fans and marketing it very well," he told BBC World Service radio.

"They're not as good at creating original content, except for their Pixar division.

"I think if you bring together the minds from Pixar [and] the minds from Disney, the news that Disney is going to reboot Star Wars was a lot more exciting to fans than just 'there's gonna be another Star Wars'."

George Lucas and Disney CEO cross swords. Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty Images
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I'm far from convinced by Cameron's plans for Syria

The Prime Minister has a plan for when the bombs drop. But what about after?

In the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister set out a powerful case for Britain to join air strikes against Isil in Syria.  Isil, he argued, poses a direct threat to Britain and its people, and Britain should not be in the business of “outsourcing our security to our allies”. And while he conceded that further airstrikes alone would not be sufficient to beat Isil, he made the case for an “Isil first” strategy – attacking Isil now, while continuing to do what we can diplomatically to help secure a lasting settlement for Syria in which Assad (eventually) plays no part.

I agreed with much of David Cameron’s analysis. And no-one should doubt either the murderous barbarism of Isil in the region, or the barbarism they foment and inspire in others across the world.  But at the end of his lengthy Q&A session with MPs, I remained unconvinced that UK involvement in airstrikes in Syria was the right option. Because the case for action has to be a case for action that has a chance of succeeding.  And David Cameron’s case contained neither a plan for winning the war, nor a plan for winning the peace.

The Prime Minister, along with military experts and analysts across the world, concedes that air strikes alone will not defeat Isil, and that (as in Iraq) ground forces are essential if we want to rid Syria of Isil. But what is the plan to assemble these ground forces so necessary for a successful mission?  David Cameron’s answer today was more a hope than a plan. He referred to “70,000 Syrian opposition fighters - principally the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – with whom we can co-ordinate attacks on Isil”.

But it is an illusion to think that these fighters can provide the ground forces needed to complement aerial bombardment of Isil.  Many commentators have begun to doubt whether the FSA continues to exist as a coherent operational entity over the past few months. Coralling the myriad rebel groups into a disciplined force capable of fighting and occupying Isil territory is a heroic ambition, not a plan. And previous efforts to mobilize the rebels against Isil have been utter failures. Last month the Americans abandoned a $500m programme to train and turn 5,400 rebel fighters into a disciplined force to fight Isil. They succeeded in training just 60 fighters. And there have been incidents of American-trained fighters giving some of their US-provided equipment to the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

Why has it proven so hard to co-opt rebel forces in the fight against Isil? Because most of the various rebel groups are fighting a war against Assad, not against Isil.  Syria’s civil war is gruesome and complex, but it is fundamentally a Civil War between Assad’s forces and a variety of opponents of Assad’s regime. It would be a mistake for Britain to base a case for military action against Isil on the hope that thousands of disparate rebel forces can be persuaded to change their enemy – especially when the evidence so far is that they won’t.

This is a plan for military action that, at present, looks highly unlikely to succeed.  But what of the plan for peace? David Cameron today argued for the separation of the immediate task at hand - to strike against Isil in Syria – from the longer-term ambition of achieving a settlement in Syria and removing Assad.  But for Isil to be beaten, the two cannot be separated. Because it is only by making progress in developing a credible and internationally-backed plan for a post-Assad Syria that we will persuade Syrian Sunnis that fighting Isil will not end up helping Assad win the Civil War.  If we want not only to rely on rebel Sunnis to provide ground troops against Isil, but also provide stable governance in Isil-occupied areas when the bombing stops, progress on a settlement to Syria’s Civil War is more not less urgent.  Without it, the reluctance of Syrian Sunnis to think that our fight is their fight will undermine the chances of military efforts to beat Isil and bring basic order to the regions they control. 

This points us towards doubling down on the progress that has already been made in Vienna: working with the USA, France, Syria’s neighbours and the Gulf states, as well as Russia and Iran. We need not just a combined approach to ending the conflict, but the prospect of a post-war Syria that offers a place for those whose cooperation we seek to defeat Isil. No doubt this will strike some as insufficient in the face of the horrors perpetrated by Isil. But I fear that if we want not just to take action against Isil but to defeat them and prevent their return, it offers a better chance of succeeding than David Cameron’s proposal today. 

Stewart Wood is a former Shadow Cabinet minister and adviser to Ed Miliband. He tweets as @StewartWood.