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 Nridigital.com

Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.