Nerds and Disney stockholders rejoice! (I fall into both categories) Walt Disney Company (DIS) has announced the $4.05 billion dollar acquisition of Lucasfilm ltd, which of course includes the Star Wars franchise. If not for Disney's incredible integration of Marvel three years ago, I expect Star Wars fans would be lighting up the blogosphere in rage and panic about what treatment Disney imagineers would do to their beloved characters. To get the initial reaction from fans I visited one of my favorite online bastions of nerd culture, superherohype.com. The reactions have been decidedly positive with sprinkles of dread. With such esteemed source material and a large and loyal fan base some skepticism is expected. With Marvel, Disney has proven that they can be respectful of source material while updating the look and feel of classic characters and incorporating new technologies like 3-D.
Furthermore, a new Star Wars film will hit the big screens in 2015, with another Star Wars film to follow every two to three years. I consider this a clear win for Disney but here are a couple more companies that are likely to benefit from this acquisition.
IMAX Corp (IMAX) - I have no doubt that Star Wars episode 7 will be converted to or possibly even shot in IMAX format. Disney already has a history with IMAX and 3D has already been mentioned in conversations about the new Star Wars film. The Avengers, Captain America and Thor were all in IMAX theaters and experienced great success. Disney's relationship with IMAX is bound to grow and that can only mean good things for IMAX Corp.
HASBRO Inc (HAS) - Hasbro currently has the action figure licensing rights for Star Wars. This acquisition is expected to re-invigorate the brand in a big way. This is bigger than a few films. Disney is the best in the world at leveraging their characters in a variety of creative and profitable ways. If you need proof, walk through a Walmart (WMT) or Target (TGT) and just look around. You will find the Avengers and Pixar characters on clothes, toys, trash cans, birthday cards and much, much more. The Star Wars section in the toy aisle is about to get a whole lot bigger with Disney backing the franchise.
These are just a few initial thoughts on this acquisition. A more thorough analysis will follow in soon. Please stay tuned and as always, thanks for reading.