The Perks of Disney's Star Wars Acquisition
It caused a social media stir this week when the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) announced this week it would be purchasing Star Wars franchise Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.
Hardcore Star Wars fans were less than excited, particularly about the news of a new Star Wars film due out in 2015.
@YOLO_YODA tweeted: “Bought Lucasfilm, Disney did. Replace me with Mickey Mouse, they cannot. #GoJediOnSomeoneIWill.”
Others, however, lauded the expertise Disney would bring to the floor.
@ZacharyLevi tweeted: “For anyone worried about Disney's acquisition of LucasFilm: don't be. They've continually proved themselves to make great entertainment...”
But regardless of which side you fall on, there's no denying the obvious benefits this acquisition brings to both companies.
The Motley Fool names five main reasons Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm is a good thing:
1. Disney knows how to get things done
Disney's past in acquisitions has been undeniably successful. After Disney bought Pixar in 2006, the resulting films gained loyal followers. Toy Story was their first venture together, occurring years before the acquisition. Other hits like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc. were joint works as well. And after the acquisition, the success continued with blockbusters like Up and the nostalgic final installment of the Toy Story trilogy.
In 2009, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for about the same price as Lucasfilm. The resulting films were hugely successful; this year's release of The Avengers broke records in its opening weekend, beating even the record for the final Harry Potter film installment.
Judging by these past records, Disney knows what it's doing. Sure, it carries the brand of Disney Princesses and children's movies, but we can't forget about the other crowds it knows how to draw.
2. Disney gets some more Sci-Fi prestige
The Marvel acquisition gave it some sci-fi mojo, but this remained in the realm of superheros. Its other attempts at sci-fi (John Carter, Mars Needs Moms) were a long way from box office-breaking.
Now, however, Disney has the chance to really get into the crux of the sci-fi genre. And if it pulls it off? Disney can build up prestige in a whole new genre.
And let's not forget Disney's ability to draw in unlikely crowds to these genres. With its Pixar films, the company made children's movies enjoyable for adults. Its Marvel movies have something for everyone – avid comic book readers and movie fans alike.
3. Disney can expand Star Wars video games
Star Wars has covered almost every possible video game idea. There are computer games, console games, even board games, like the Star Wars-themed version of Battleship. The problem is, it's running out of room to expand. It's worn out its gaming ideas.
Disney could change that. As with movies, Disney knows how to reach all age groups with games. It can bring Star Wars back into the heart of the gaming world and make it accessible for both game fans and die-hard Star Wars fans.
4. One word: merchandise!
Merchandise is another winner for Lucasfilm. The Star Wars movies have had their own merchandise, of course, with board games and action figures made possible through a deal with Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS). But there's no doubt that Disney will aim to expand this.
Disney works with Hasbro as well, but it also has other deals that will help cement Star Wars toys into popular culture. Its chain of Disney Stores will work to market the products, and it will certainly be able to expand the merchandise for a number of ages. Imagine Luke and Leia costumes popping up alongside the Toy Story outfits in the Disney Store. Accessibility is Disney's specialty.
5. “Star Wars World”
And for the final act: a Star Wars-themed park!
Okay, not necessarily. But there's potential for something big in Disney's enormously popular theme parks. Star Wars undertones would be perfect in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland. A lightsaber exhibition would go well alongside the Indiana Jones show in MGM. Or eventually another mini-park could spring up, finally something to give Disney enough competition to take back tourists from Universal's attractive Harry Potter world.
Marvel couldn't quite do this, since Universal has the rights to many of the superheroes in its Islands of Adventure. Disney's adding an Avatar aspect to its Animal Kingdom, set for 2016, but it doesn't own this either, so the additions won't likely be up to Disney's usual status.
But Star Wars will give it that opportunity.
Lucasfilm gives it Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, adding a new store of visual and auditory effects to Disney's cache.
In all aspects, the Walt Disney Co. will benefit from the acquisition.
And for the disgruntled Star Wars fans out there, don't doubt Disney's magic too soon.+6
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