Disney to expand digital strategy with Star Wars

Michelle Clancy | 01-11-2012

As social media rollicked with the news that Disney is acquiring Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and will release a whole new set of Star Wars movies, the media powerhouse said during a conference call that it will focus in on mobile and social video and gaming as a big piece of its Star Wars strategy.

The pact will also spawn new TV shows, games and theme park attractions, and Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Disney will leverage the 17,000 Star Wars characters that inhabit several thousand planets across 20,000 years for an integrated and comprehensive approach.

"It is a sustainable source of branded, high-quality creative content with tremendous global appeal that will benefit all of Disney's business units and is incredibly well suited for new business models, including digital platforms," Iger said during the investor call.

"I'm doing this so that the films will have a longer life," Star Wars creator George Lucas said, adding that he already has story treatments for more movies, although he won't write or direct them. "So more fans and people can enjoy them in the future. It's a very big universe I've created and there's a lot of stories sitting in there."

"George Lucas is a true visionary and an innovative, epic storyteller who has defined modern filmmaking with unforgettable characters and amazing stories," said Iger, in a supporting YouTube video.

When it comes to gaming specifically, the House of Mouse is "likely to focus more on social and mobile than we are on console," Iger said during a conference call. Disney will meanwhile look at console games "opportunistically."

Disney executives also said that gaming accounted for a little less than 20% of Lucasfilm's revenue in the past year. (Films accounted for 25%, consumer products for 25%, with the remaining 30ish% made up of everything else.) And Iger said the acquisition should not affect the company's goal to make its gaming division, Disney Interactive, profitable next year.