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Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC /lukɪsfɪlm/ is an American film and television production company based in the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco, California. The studio is best known for creating and producing the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as its leadership in developing special effects, sound and computer animation for film. Lucasfilm was founded by filmmaker George Lucas in 1971 in San Rafael, California; most of the company’s operations were moved to San Francisco in 2005. The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 at a valuation of $4.06 billion.
Independent era (1971–2012)
Lucasfilm was founded by filmmaker George Lucas in 1971, and incorporated as Lucasfilm Ltd. on September 12, 1977.
On July 8, 2005, Lucasfilm’s marketing, online, and licensing units moved into the new Letterman Digital Arts Center located in the Presidio in San Francisco. It shares the complex with Industrial Light & Magic. Lucasfilm had planned an expansion at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California, but shelved the plan in 2012 due to opposition from neighbors. However, it still plans to expand elsewhere.Skywalker Sound remains the only Lucasfilm division based at Skywalker Ranch.
In January 2012, Lucas announced his retirement from producing large-scale blockbuster films and instead re-focusing his career on smaller, independently budgeted features.
In June 2012, it was announced that producer Kathleen Kennedy, a long-term collaborator with Steven Spielberg and a producer of the Indiana Jones films, had been appointed as co-chair of Lucasfilm Ltd. It was reported that Kennedy would work alongside Lucas, who would remain chief executive and serve as co-chairman for at least one year, after which she would succeed him as the company’s chairperson, which she did in June 2013.
On September 5, 2012, Micheline Chau, who served as president and COO of Lucasfilm for two decades, announced that she was retiring. With her departure, senior executives for each of the Lucasfilm divisions will report directly to Kathleen Kennedy. Chau was credited with keeping the Lucasfilm and Star Wars brands strong, especially through animation spin-offs and licensing initiatives.
Disney subsidiary (2012–present)
Discussions relating to the possibility of The Walt Disney Company signing a distribution deal with Lucasfilm officially began in May 2011, after a meeting that George Lucas had with Disney CEO Bob Iger during the inauguration of the Star Tours – The Adventures Continue attraction. Lucas told Iger he was considering retirement and planned to sell the company, as well as the Star Wars franchise. On October 30, 2012, Disney announced a deal to acquire Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion, with approximately half in cash and half in shares of Disney stock. Lucasfilm had previously collaborated with the company’s Walt Disney Imagineering division to create theme park attractions centered on Star Wars and Indiana Jones for various Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide.
Kathleen Kennedy, co-chairman of Lucasfilm, became president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she serves as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Kennedy serves as producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas originally announced as serving as creative consultant. The company also announced the future release of new Star Wars films, starting with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens in 2015.
Under the deal, Disney acquired ownership of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Lucasfilm’s operating businesses in live-action film production, consumer products, video games, animation, visual effects, and audio post-production. Disney also acquired Lucasfilm’s portfolio of entertainment technologies. The intent was for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations. Star Wars merchandising would begin under Disney in the fiscal year 2014. Starting with Star Wars Rebels, certain products will be co-branded with the Disney name, akin to what Disney has done with Pixar. On December 4, 2012, the Disney-Lucasfilm merger was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, allowing the acquisition to be finalized without dealing with antitrust problems. On December 18, 2012, Lucasfilm Ltd. was reincorporated as Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC, and on December 21, 2012, the deal was announced to be completed, because of which Lucasfilm became a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney.
Iger confirmed that Lucasfilm had plans to have stand-alone Star Wars films with Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg lined up to develop the movies that would be released sometime during the six-year period the sequel trilogy will be released.
In April 2013, the development arm of the LucasArts division was closed down and most of its staff was laid off. However, LucasArts remained open with a skeleton staff of fewer than ten employees so it could retain its function as a video game licensor. On May 6, 2013, Disney announced an exclusive deal with Electronic Arts to produce Star Wars games for the core gaming market. LucasArts retained the ability to license, and Disney Interactive Studios retained the ability to develop, Star Wars games for the casual gaming market.
20th Century Fox, the original distributor of the first six Star Wars films, still retains the physical distribution rights to the original two Star Wars trilogies, currently owning permanent full distribution rights for the original 1977 film, while also holding the theatrical and home video distribution rights to Episodes I–III, V, and VI until May 2020. On December 14, 2017, Disney agreed to acquire the Fox studio, which would combine all these rights under its umbrella. Lucasfilm retains the television and digital distribution rights to all the Star Wars films except the original. In December 2013, Walt Disney Studios purchased the distribution and marketing rights to future Indiana Jones films from Paramount Pictures, although the latter studio will retain the distribution rights to the first four films and will receive “financial participation” from any additional films.
On January 3, 2014, Lucasfilm announced that Dark Horse Comics’ license for Star Wars comics would end in 2015, and return to fellow Disney subsidiary Marvel Comics. On April 24, 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the Star Wars expanded universe would no longer be explicitly sub canon (but may be drawn upon for future works) and that The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series would be considered canon and future Star Wars projects would be overseen by a new story group to keep to that canon. Additionally, the Star Wars Legends banner would be used for those Expanded Universe materials that are in print. Disney Publishing Worldwide also announced that Del Rey would publish a new line of canon Star Wars books under the Lucasfilm Story Group being released starting in September on a bi-monthly schedule.
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Address Letterman Digital Arts Center, Presidio of San Francisco, California, United States
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