'Star Wars' Spinoffs Will Make Lucasfilm Deal Far, Far Bigger for Disney


Shares of Disney (DIS) hit an all-time high after the family entertainment giant posted better than expected quarterly results on Tuesday.

"Star Wars" fans are also hitting new highs.

Disney CEO Robert Iger told CNBC on Tuesday that his company didn't shell out $4 billion in cash and stock for Lucasfilm to merely put out a new "Stars Wars" movie every other year. Iger admitted for the first time that Disney is also working on other theatrical properties based on "Star Wars" characters.

Sci-fi fans have been buzzing since Disney acquired George Lucas' company, generally cheering even more when director J.J. Abrams was brought on board to helm the first new movie, expected to hit theaters in the summer of 2015.

Now the franchise is being taken to a new level that Disney can gladly bankroll.

Star Wars and Disney
Star Wars and Disney

Taking a Page Out of the Marvel Playbook

Disney turned heads when it acquired Marvel a few years ago, and the move is paying off. Last year's highest grossing movie was "Marvel's The Avengers."

The media giant has been able to cash in on its original investment by digging deep into Marvel's catalog of comic book characters to create engaging films.

Star Wars will prove to be a bigger challenge. This isn't Marvel, where different stories exist for hundreds of inked characters. There are a limited number of secondary Star Wars characters who can carry a new franchise. Nobody's going to line up see the backstory of Jar Jar Binks, though it's easy to see the allure of having bounty hunter Bobba Fett or Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu carry a new story arc.

Help Me, Obi Wan. You're My Only Hope

The "Star Wars" revival can't come soon enough -- and not just for the fans or the franchise.

It's merely a coincidence that the only subsidiary to take a step back in Disney's fiscal first quarter report on Tuesday was its film division. The media juggernaut's four other divisions posted gains in revenue and operating profit -- but not its studio entertainment subsidiary.

This doesn't necessarily mean that Disney's in trouble on the silver screen. Making movies is a lumpy business, and Disney's just experiencing a lull between marquee releases. It will bounce back, with or without the Skywalkers whipping out their light sabers.

However, harnessing the Force certainly won't hurt.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney.

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