At the beginning of this month, Disney announced their acquisition of Lucasfilm, keeper of the Star Wars franchise, for $4.05 billion. Once again, the mass media giant is proving that it is willing to pay huge money to land a big franchise.
Three years ago, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion and that led directly to the production and release of a series of massively successful superhero movies, including Thor and Captain America last year and The Avengers earlier this year, which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide in box offices. In addition, Disney and Marvel currently have a number of sequels to these movies and even more related films in the pipeline. Dating back even further, Disney’s acquisition of Pixar for $7.6 billion brought with it the animation studio’s list of film series, including Toy Story and Monsters franchises. With the purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney is hoping to take over, revive, and build upon the existing Star Wars franchise in a similar fashion.
According to Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett, this deal with Lucasfilm looks even more promising than the Marvel acquisition and “for about the same purchase price, Disney is buying another big, young male skewing franchise to expand its diversification from young females.” This is a great strategy for Disney and really filled in the gap in their audience appeal as the more traditional image of Disney is definitely heavily skewed to the female population. Lucasfilms will not only give Disney the rights to Star Wars which Disney is already taking advantage of with its planned introduction of Star Wars VII in 2015, but also the Indiana Jones franchise and a special-effects powerhouse, Industrial Light and Magic.
More recently, Disney has released an entire series of events planned in 2013. With its D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, Disney will be hosting many events in major cities such as Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, in the US. And just yesterday, Disney’s Board announced that it will be increasing annual cash dividend by 25% to $0.75 per share. All the signals are positive and Disney seems to be riding on a great wave, and it will be very interesting to keep a close eye on this media giant in early 2013.