Is there a Star Wars Process?

Scott Francis
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No one was more excited than my children about the fact that Lucasfilm (along with Star Wars) was purchased by Disney.

Disney announced today it will buy Lucasfilm for $4 billion in cash and stock.

George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars franchise and CEO of Lucasfilm, owns 100% of the company.

Even better: A new Star Wars movie, Episode VII, will debut in 2015. More Star Wars feature films are planned after that.

The first thought my daughter shared with me about it was that she wondered what new Star Wars content would be on Disney Junior.  Talk about brand power (Disney’s and Star Wars).

This deal becomes a big success for Disney if they can turn out Star Wars movies (and other media) that are consistent hits.  But the real question to me, is whether Disney has a process that works.  Most people would probably call it a formula, but being a process guy, I’d call it a process. Whenever we ask whether a success (a movie) can be repeated, then we should be looking at what processes are in place for that to happen.

Luckily we have some publicly available examples to look at. For one thing, Disney has purchased a couple of companies that have similar franchise value to Lucasfilm and its Star Wars franchise.

First, there was the purchase of Pixar for approximately $8B.  One could argue that the reason Pixar was purchased was largely because Pixar had demonstrated a repeatable capability to produce blockbuster animation films – whether they were leveraging a brand or building a new brand.  More importantly, Pixar’s run of successes has only continued since Disney acquired Pixar.  A sign that Disney knows how to let a successful team keep executing.

But can Disney learn from what Pixar is doing and apply it to something new?  Again, a previous acquisition hints that they can:  the Marvel acquisition.  A string of Superhero movies has been relentless since then, with a string of box office successes as well.  In fact most of the duds happened before Disney acquired Marvel.

Moreover, Disney has been able to capitalize on expanding the Pixar and Marvel catalogs through merchandizing, theme parks, and branding.

I think the evidence is there that Disney can help Lucasfilm establish of pattern of hit movies, while extending the value of those movies into extensive merchandising and theme parks.  This is no sure thing: the biggest risk is George Lucas himself – as he is going to withdraw from day-to-day activities and won’t be directing future films.  On the other hand, this is also an opportunity to depart from his formula while still exploring the rich universe of stories he helped create. Many Star Wars fans would like to see a less centralized vision of Star Wars – something edgier, and with better dialog.

And then there’s my daughter- she’d like more Star Wars on Disney Junior.

Hopefully we’ll all get some of what we want.

 

 

 

 

 

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