Disney Buys Lucasfilm – Mickey Welcomes Jar Jar to the Family

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the news that shook the business and entertainment worlds on Tuesday. In a move that seemed to come from out of nowhere, the Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm, Ltd. for $4 billion, and has already announced its intention to produce a new ‘Star Wars’ movie for release in 2015. Readers of our web site may sense in this deal the glimmer of a new hope. With George Lucas finally out of the picture, could the franchise’s new owners eventually release a proper restoration of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy on Blu-ray, sans all the stupid edits and digital alterations that Lucas has imposed on the movies over the years? Unfortunately, the situation isn’t quite so simple.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, 20th Century Fox owns all distribution rights for the first movie (now known as ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’) across all media in perpetuity, and has theatrical, non-theatrical and home video rights for the five subsequent films through 2020. The purpose of Disney’s buy-out is primarily to produce new ‘Star Wars’ properties (starting with ‘Episode VII: Rise of the Binks’) that will be released fully under the Disney brand. If Disney wishes to do anything with the existing six movies, the company will need to work out a business arrangement with Fox.

Is there any good reason why Disney and Fox wouldn’t want to do that? Maybe, maybe not. Until now, the only obstacle to restoring the films’ original theatrical versions was George Lucas himself. The Fox studio had nothing to do with that decision, and may well welcome an opportunity to re-release the movies all over again.

On the other hand, reports are emerging that George Lucas completely bypassed Fox when he decided to sell Lucasfilm, and never even offered the franchise’s long-time distributor a shot at buying it. It’s possible that being cut out of the deal could engender some bad blood with Fox.

I’m also a little concerned that Disney has just as much a history of revisionism as Lucasfilm does. We may never see the original, uncensored version of ‘Fantasia’ again. The studio also censored some harmless gags in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ for home video, and won’t even acknowledge the existence of ‘Song of the South’ anymore. And that’s to say nothing of the constant digital recoloring and other “improvements” to its classic animated films. Given this sort of corporate mentality, will anyone at Disney understand the importance of restoring these movies as they were originally released?

Ultimately, I don’t know what Disney will do with the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. I’d like to remain optimistic for the prospects of a much-needed restoration effort, but I won’t hold my breath for it.


  1. I thought Lucasfilm would be worth more, actually. Pixar cost almost twice as much. And Lucasfilm includes Indiana Jones as well!

    Makes me wonder:

    1) Will Disney make a 5th Indiana Jones as well?
    2) Does buying Lucasfilm Ltd. mean that Disney now also own THX, Skywalker Sound, ILM, LucasArts or are those different entities?
    3) Will we see a Donald/Howard crossover?

    • Paul

      1) Disney considers Indiana Jones “encumbered” by Paramount and there are no immediate plans for Indy.

      2) THX has been independent since 2001. ILM, Skywalker Sound, and LucasArts were all included in the deal and are now owned by Disney.

      3) When you wish upon a star…

    • William Henley

      Wouldn’t it also include Willow? Not only am I looking forward to a Blu-Ray release of Willow, but I would love to see a few new movies set in that universe!

  2. JM

    Do you buy the rumor that Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof’s ‘1952’ is the cryptonym for the new trilogy?

    George Lucas told Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher about 7/8/9 last summer, that Kathleen Kennedy was producing, and he was already working with the writer.

    Could be interesting. Mark Hamill is starting to look like Brando in ‘Apocalypse Now.’

      • JM

        Who would write a more interesting ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro, or Wes Anderson…?

  3. Yeah I was honestly surprised at the price, Disney buying one of the biggest movie franchises ever AND getting Indiana Jones AND ILM AND Skywalker Sound, how is that worth half of what Pixar was? If anything it should be more, ILM is one of the best FX production companies in the world and again, freaking Star Wars….surprised they didnt work out more or Lucas maybe didnt want more, half of his money is in Disney Stock so that could be very nice indeed 🙂

    Otherwise I’m pumped for this, so glad Disney got and not FOX, FOX blows plain and simple and some of the “revisionist” thinking of Disney doesnt hold up to some of the CRAP Fox has put out in the theater on DVD and of course FUBAR’d on Bluray. Disney puts a lot of time and money into ALL of their Bluray releases, restorations are fantastic usually, so I’m not worried about a couple of things like you mentioned, they still dont compare to what Lucas has done over the years to Star Wars 😉

    This can only go up in quality IMO, Lucas isnt involved so much now, he wont be writing or directing anything anymore and that will automatically make any new Star Wars movie better 🙂 I’m a fan of all 6 movies though but I certainly know and understand what and why people dont like the prequels and its really George who was the problem there, Empire is considered the best in the series and he really wasnt involved outside of creating the story and that will be what returns Star Wars to glory come Episode VII 🙂

  4. EM

    Aside from restoration of the original original trilogy, my only particular hope for this venture is a fulsome, official Star Tours CD release. But we’ll see what develops.

    As for the Ducks, I’ve already heard that there were no Donald–Howard plans in the wake of Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. However, I have been keeping an eye out for a pantsless Howard, who decades ago started wearing pants in reaction to Disney’s rumblings of a lawsuit over infringing similarities.

  5. Jon D

    Don’t bet on ever seeing the OT uncut. I’m sure Lucas still has enormous influence even though he is no longer the owner of LucasArts. Plus he probably wrote a clause into the damn purchase agreement that the uncut OT will never be released.

  6. I’m really torn on this… I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan, and while a part of me thinks “Woohoo! New movies!” It’s no longer Lucas. For all the complaints levelled at the prequel trilogy, at least they were HIS. I’d rather see that, than the way most movies are churned out controlled by miscellaneous money-grubbing suits that chop and change.

    I can’t help feeling that all Star Wars movies from here on in, will not truly be Star Wars… 🙁 And god help us all if Lindelof gets his hands on them…

    My only hope is that the reason Lucas did this, is to continue funding his private project to build his own Death Star and become the real-life equivalent of Emperor Palpatine crossed with Blofeld, no-doubt stroking a small white duck while Han Bond travels the globe trying to stop him…

  7. worth

    “On the other hand, reports are emerging that George Lucas completely bypassed Fox when he decided to sell Lucasfilm, and never even offered the franchise’s long-time distributor a shot at buying it.”

    Maybe that will encourage Fox will release the originals as a parting “screw you” to Lucas.

    • Josh Zyber

      As I understand it, Fox doesn’t control what happens with Star Wars. They just distribute the movies. As the new owner of Lucasfilm, Disney will now call the shots on what gets released or doesn’t get released. The only say Fox could have in the matter is to refuse to distribute a re-release.

      Fox could not unilaterally decide to release the original theatrical cuts of the movies. Only the owner can make that decision.

      The MGM situation is similar. MGM controls its own catalog and makes decisions on what to release. As MGM’s home video distributor, Fox authors the Blu-ray discs, ships them to retailers and promotes them.

      • William Henley

        Nice. So Disney could remaster the originals, and then Fox would redistribute them. Sounds like a win-win for both studios. Fox has to do nothing, but still gets a bit of the profits, and we have the benefits of Disney’s awesome restoration processes. How could this be anything but a positive!