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22 March 2013

Why George Lucas Is A Genius



A couple of weeks ago, I geeked-out at this fantastic article at Bloomberg Businessweek regarding the acquisition of the Star Wars universe by Disney.

Money (literally):

At first [George Lucas] wouldn’t even turn over his rough sketches of the next three Star Wars films. When Disney executives asked to see them, he assured them they would be great and said they should just trust him. “Ultimately you have to say, ‘Look, I know what I’m doing. Buying my stories is part of what the deal is.’ I’ve worked at this for 40 years, and I’ve been pretty successful,” Lucas says. “I mean, I could have said, ‘Fine, well, I’ll just sell the company to somebody else.’ ”


Once Lucas got assurances from Disney in writing about the broad outlines of the deal, he agreed to turn over the treatments—but insisted they could only be read by [Robert Iger, chief executive officer of Walt Disney], [Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios], and Kevin Mayer, Disney’s executive vice president for corporate strategy. “We promised,” says Iger. “We had to sign an agreement.”

When Iger finally got a look at the treatments, he was elated. “We thought from a storytelling perspective they had a lot of potential,” he says.

At the end of October, Iger arranged for Lucas to fly down to Disney’s Burbank headquarters and sign the papers. He thought Lucas seemed melancholy. “When he put that pen to the piece of paper, I didn’t detect a hesitation,” Iger says. “But I did detect there was a lot of emotion. He was saying goodbye.”
...and that's when Disney shelled-out $4 billion for George Lucas' properties.

So, to re-cap: Lucas starts thinking, 'hey, I'd kind of like to retire'. Chats informally with some friends at Disney. Gets that company interested in buying the Star Wars Universe. Then, Lucas deliberately starts work on Episodes VII, VIII, and IX -- the elusive sequels to the Original Trilogy.

By starting this project anew, it is impossible to say how much more valuable the deal became, but I would wager that it is not an insignificant amount of money. Hence, George Lucas is a genius.

Here is the accompanying video, provided by Bloomberg:


As I've said before:
My hunch is that, despite the protestations of many a Star Wars fan/nerd, the "takeover" by Disney will not really make a difference in the quality of the final films. After all, Disney bought Marvel in 2009 and has cranked out some pretty good comic book flicks since then. Bottom line: Disney's purchase is not the end of the galaxy.

Plus, George Lucas had complete control of the prequel Star Wars films (Eps. I, II, and II), and we all know how they turned out. Yikes.
... so I'm not (too) afraid of what Disney will do with the properties.

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