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Is Lucasfilm the last nail in the Disney filmmaking coffin?

George Lucas Poses With A Group Of "Star Wars" Inspired Disney Characters At Disney's Hollywood Studios

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George Lucas meets a group of "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters. Disney just bought Lucas' company, Lucasfilm, for $4.05 billion.

Sorry to get to a Halloween headline a few days late, but Erica Orden had a very good piece in the Wall Street Journal Thursday about how Disney's $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, announced this week, will basically place in-house filmmaking at the feet of CEO Bob Iger's purchases: Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006 and Marvel for $4 billion in 2009.

Here's Orden:

With the new "Disney-Lucasfilm" brand set to release a "Star Wars" sequel every other year beginning in 2015, the original studio is likely to face an even-further-reduced capacity to produce and distribute its own live-action fare. In total, Disney distributes roughly a dozen films each year.

Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger indicated this week that the coming "Star Wars" films will supplant Disney movies on the release schedule. Disney doesn't plan to spend more than it already does on film production, Mr. Iger said, meaning each new "Star Wars" film will lead to one less Disney film.

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Update: Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4B : 'Star Wars: Episode 7' due in 2015 (poll)

Stormtroopers

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"Stars Wars" Imperial storm troopers. They work for Disney now.

UPDATE 4: Iger and his team see upside in the deal in the future, in terms of exploiting new filmmaking opportunities and realizing new consumer-product opportunities. The idea seems to be that "Star Wars" merchandising has room to run outside North America.

Also, Disney doesn't have a completely free hand with "Star Wars," due to intellectual-property claims that Fox and Paramount may hold from the films that they worked on.

UPDATE 3: In its last earnings report, Disney had over $4 billion in cash. However, Iger pointed out that Disney expects a return on Lucasfilm "well in advance of its cost of capital," suggesting that the company didn't burn half its cash on hand to make this acquisition. Although the company is proposing to buy back, in several years, the shares it issued to complete the deal. This will hit Disney a bit in terms of share value — issuing new stock will dilute the value of existing stock.

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