Wall Street Watch Wednesday: Disney Uses the Force
The family entertainment company announced late Tuesday that it will be shelling out $4.05 billion in cash and stock to acquire Lucasfilm.
There are plenty of moving parts to George Lucas's media empire, but this is essentially about Mickey getting his mitts on the Star Wars franchise.
Fans of the sci-fi juggernaut may cringe, but they shouldn't. Disney has shelled out billions in recent years for Pixar and Marvel. Neither acquisition proved fatal. Neither deal took the edge off either acquired company. If Star Wars survived Jar Jar Binks, surely it can get past this.
Disney will now obviously be green-lighting the final three movies of the theatrically successful saga. It will also be interesting to see how this plays out in Disney's theme parks. There is already a Star Wars-themed attraction -- Star Tours -- in a couple of the company's parks. The next logical step, outside of perhaps trying to break Princess Leia into the Disney Princess line, is to develop a full-blown "Star Wars Land" in one of its parks.
Disney has seen how successful rival Universal has been after adding a Harry Potter section to its Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida. Disney has plans to open an Avatar-themed land in Florida's Animal Kingdom in a few years, but now it's just a matter of time before the Star Wars franchise gets milked through Disney's various businesses.
Other things worth watching
Western Union (WU) is ready to wire its shareholders some more money. Despite a disappointing quarterly report on Tuesday afternoon -- one that featured the lowering of guidance for the balance of 2012 and a management restructuring that will be initially dilutive -- the money transfer giant did boost its dividend rate 25%.
Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) is finally closing in on a release date to "Grand Theft Auto V." Take-Two still doesn't have a firm date for the highly anticipated video game, but it is now going public with plans to put out the game as a springtime release next year. Perhaps more important, pre-orders will start next week.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Western Union, Walt Disney, and Take-Two Interactive Software. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a write covered straddle position in Western Union.