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

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The Autumn Statement proved it – we need a real alternative to austerity, now

Theresa May’s Tories have missed their chance to rescue the British economy.

After six wasted years of failed Conservative austerity measures, Philip Hammond had the opportunity last month in the Autumn Statement to change course and put in place the economic policies that would deliver greater prosperity, and make sure it was fairly shared.

Instead, he chose to continue with cuts to public services and in-work benefits while failing to deliver the scale of investment needed to secure future prosperity. The sense of betrayal is palpable.

The headline figures are grim. An analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that real wages will not recover their 2008 levels even after 2020. The Tories are overseeing a lost decade in earnings that is, in the words Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, “dreadful” and unprecedented in modern British history.

Meanwhile, the Treasury’s own analysis shows the cuts falling hardest on the poorest 30 per cent of the population. The Office for Budget Responsibility has reported that it expects a £122bn worsening in the public finances over the next five years. Of this, less than half – £59bn – is due to the Tories’ shambolic handling of Brexit. Most of the rest is thanks to their mishandling of the domestic economy.

 

Time to invest

The Tories may think that those people who are “just about managing” are an electoral demographic, but for Labour they are our friends, neighbours and the people we represent. People in all walks of life needed something better from this government, but the Autumn Statement was a betrayal of the hopes that they tried to raise beforehand.

Because the Tories cut when they should have invested, we now have a fundamentally weak economy that is unprepared for the challenges of Brexit. Low investment has meant that instead of installing new machinery, or building the new infrastructure that would support productive high-wage jobs, we have an economy that is more and more dependent on low-productivity, low-paid work. Every hour worked in the US, Germany or France produces on average a third more than an hour of work here.

Labour has different priorities. We will deliver the necessary investment in infrastructure and research funding, and back it up with an industrial strategy that can sustain well-paid, secure jobs in the industries of the future such as renewables. We will fight for Britain’s continued tariff-free access to the single market. We will reverse the tax giveaways to the mega-rich and the giant companies, instead using the money to make sure the NHS and our education system are properly funded. In 2020 we will introduce a real living wage, expected to be £10 an hour, to make sure every job pays a wage you can actually live on. And we will rebuild and transform our economy so no one and no community is left behind.

 

May’s missing alternative

This week, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, gave an important speech in which he hit the proverbial nail on the head. He was completely right to point out that societies need to redistribute the gains from trade and technology, and to educate and empower their citizens. We are going through a lost decade of earnings growth, as Carney highlights, and the crisis of productivity will not be solved without major government investment, backed up by an industrial strategy that can deliver growth.

Labour in government is committed to tackling the challenges of rising inequality, low wage growth, and driving up Britain’s productivity growth. But it is becoming clearer each day since Theresa May became Prime Minister that she, like her predecessor, has no credible solutions to the challenges our economy faces.

 

Crisis in Italy

The Italian people have decisively rejected the changes to their constitution proposed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, with nearly 60 per cent voting No. The Italian economy has not grown for close to two decades. A succession of governments has attempted to introduce free-market policies, including slashing pensions and undermining rights at work, but these have had little impact.

Renzi wanted extra powers to push through more free-market reforms, but he has now resigned after encountering opposition from across the Italian political spectrum. The absence of growth has left Italian banks with €360bn of loans that are not being repaid. Usually, these debts would be written off, but Italian banks lack the reserves to be able to absorb the losses. They need outside assistance to survive.

 

Bail in or bail out

The oldest bank in the world, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, needs €5bn before the end of the year if it is to avoid collapse. Renzi had arranged a financing deal but this is now under threat. Under new EU rules, governments are not allowed to bail out banks, like in the 2008 crisis. This is intended to protect taxpayers. Instead, bank investors are supposed to take a loss through a “bail-in”.

Unusually, however, Italian bank investors are not only big financial institutions such as insurance companies, but ordinary households. One-third of all Italian bank bonds are held by households, so a bail-in would hit them hard. And should Italy’s banks fail, the danger is that investors will pull money out of banks across Europe, causing further failures. British banks have been reducing their investments in Italy, but concerned UK regulators have asked recently for details of their exposure.

John McDonnell is the shadow chancellor


John McDonnell is Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and has been shadow chancellor since September 2015. 

This article first appeared in the 08 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brexit to Trump