Want a bracing wake up call as to how things operate on the major studio level? Listen to conference call with the big shots of a major studio. During the an investor conference call following the mind blowing news that Disney has purchased LucasFilm, the focus of the conversation between chief financial officers at Disney and financial types assessing the purchase were all about branding, branding, branding, branding and essentially leveraging “Star Wars” as much as possibly into a money-generating property for years and years to come. But within that were a few revelations worth talking about.
First and foremost, Disney revealed that “Star Wars: Episode 7” was the start of a new trilogy, with “Star Wars: Episode 8” and “Star Wars: Episode 9” to be released approximately “every other year” following 2015. And moreover, the creative process is well underway. “We’re going to concentrate on the ‘Star Wars’ franchise,” Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said in today’s Disney press conference, “What we’re buying, along with the overall company, is a pretty extensive and detailed treatment for what would be the next three movies. The trilogy.” So basically, 2015, 2017 and 2019 look to be set for a “Star Wars” rollout.” Disney will distribute the pictures taking over from 20th Century Fox who handled those features in the past. George Lucas will consult on the film, but not write or direct. Directly from today’s press conf:
“We also expect to create significant value in the film business. We plan to release the first new Star Wars film in 2015, and then plan to release one film every two to three years. These films will be released and distributed as part of our target slate of 8-10 live-action films per year, and will augment Disney’s already strong creative pipeline for many years to come. Lucasfilm has not released a Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith in 2005. However, adjusted for inflation, as well as growth in both international box office and 3D, we estimate the three most recent Star Wars films would have averaged about $1.5 billion in global box office in today’s dollars. This speaks to the franchise’s strength, global appeal and the great opportunity we have in the film business.”
As for the Indiana Jones series, Disney suits made it clear that Star Wars is the golden goose of LucasFilm and the brand would be their immediate focus. Why? As they revealed later in the call, some possible legal hula hoops with Paramount (who distributed the films) could potentially be a hurdle, and moreover, the movies were not part of the valuation of LucasFilm. Another reason could be that the toy licensing rights are currently tied up with a few other companies.
Much, much more to come we’re sure. But in short: more “Star Wars,” but Indiana Jones has hung up the whip for the time being.