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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

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

"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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Disney gets its movie business back, just in time

Rich Ross (L), Walt Disney Studios Presi

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The Muppets get a Hollywood Blvd. star — and Disney turns in a solid first quarter. The movie business is still weak, however.

Disney just reported first quarter earnings, and they were pretty good. But they repeated a trend at the company: gains on theme parks and with media, including ESPN and ABC, but losses on Disney Movie Studios. 

This is from Reuters:

The film studio recorded an $84 million loss in operating income on "John Carter," which cost $250 million to produce and millions more to market.

As in recent quarters, Disney earnings were boosted by its media unit, which includes the sports channel ESPN and ABC. Operating earnings in that unit increased 13 percent to $1.7 billion in the latest quarter.

Earnings at the theme park unit rose 53 percent to $222 million.

"You've got a parks recovery that's underway, and you have a cable network business that's best in class. It showed good growth on the top-line there," said Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible...

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Disney's film studio has no leader, but it kills at the box office anyway

Marvel Studios Celebrates Release Of "Marvel's The Avengers" At The New York Stock Exchange

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

"The Avengers" breaks box office records for its opening weekend. But will Wall Street be impressed?

Just a few short weeks after Rich Ross was ousted as head of Walt Disney Studios, a movie that he oversaw laid waste to domestic box office records. "The Avengers" brought in $200 million, neatly decimating "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" by about...oh, maybe $30 million!

If you can believe it, it was all too little too late for Ross, who did have a slate of movies coming this year that look to rock the box office for Disney. But that evidently still doesn't mean that he knew what he was doing. At The Wrap, Brent Lang has a good take:

Even with Ross at the helm, Disney often appeared directionless. Though it was probably not his intent, Disney Production President Sean Bailey unwittingly acknowledged the studio's existential crisis at one point.

Bailey said the company has asked itself, "what does it mean to be a Disney movie...and it's a difficult question."

Among the answers he arrived at were that Disney films should "speak to the core of human experience" and show "the wonderment, the joy" of life.

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Many probably learned of Steve Jobs' death on an Apple device he brought to life

About 10 minutes ago, AP reported that Steve Jobs has died at 56. This was quickly followed, as things are now, by a flurry of Twitter activity. Apple's board of directors quickly issued the official statement:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.

The Apple homepage also transmitted the sad news of Steve Jobs' death (1955-2011) to all Appledom. The company has set up an email address to anyone who was ever influenced or inspired, exasperated or enraged, by Jobs to send in their thoughts:

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