Walt Disney Co. CFO Jay Rasulo Talks STAR WARS Franchise, STAR WARS: EPISODE VII, Spin-Off Origin Stories and Releasing One Film a Year Starting in 2015

     September 12, 2013


Hollywood’s heavy hitters are duking it out for investor dollars today at a media conference.  We just heard what Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara had to say about their DC and Harry Potter franchise plans, so let’s take a look at what Walt Disney Co. has in store for Star Wars.  CFO Jay Rasulo paid special attention to just how lucrative a property Star Wars continues to be, which is the driving force behind the company’s decision to purchase the rights late last year.  Moving forward, Rasulo says to expect one new Star Wars trilogy film or spin-off “origin story film” each year, starting in 2015.  For more, hit the jump.

Variety reports star-wars-retro-adthat it was all about Star Wars during Rasulo’s talk.  Disney disappointed fans earlier in the year when attendees to the D23 Expo left empty-handed (as far as Star Wars news was concerned), but there were nuggets of news thrown around during the investors conference.  Rasulo and Disney aren’t worried about their $4 billion purchase of the property, saying, “the market is extremely hot for everything ‘Star Wars.’”  As far as what they have planned on a macroscopic level, Rasulo used a little bit of business talk to say:

“This is not a new franchise for kids … The sky’s the limit … There’s incredible flexibility. It’s an unbelievable palette to create from.”

In other words, look for four-quadrant product placement for Star Wars across the board beyond films, TV shows and video games to other consumer products.  When can we expect that?

“We will lay the groundwork for that … and when the film comes out in 2015, we’ll be ready to blow it out,” saying that the overall strategy is “to put out a great film” first.

Here’s another interesting bit in which Rasulo calls the spin-off movies “origin” stories, reported in Variety’s words as follows:

“One Star Wars trilogy film or “origin story film” would also appear on the release schedule each year, starting with the seventh installment in the “Star Wars” saga that J.J. Abrams will direct and Disney releases in 2015.”

Previously, it was only rumored that these spin-off films would be origin stories, such as ones featuring Yoda, Boba Fett and Han Solo.  Still no details on that front, but it’s good news for fans that Disney will be releasing a Star Wars movie in some capacity every year.

star-wars-han-solo-harrison-fordAnd here’s a fun financial fact: Disney will be capping budgets on its potential blockbusters.

“The exec cautioned that after the disappointing box office performance of “The Lone Ranger” this summer, “there needs to be a cap on (budgets of) tentpole franchise movies.” “Going forward, we will see a cap on spending on those movies,” he said.”

Perhaps the first casualty of this decision was Pirates of the Caribbean 5 / Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which was recently delayed from its planned summer 2015 with no new release date in sight.  Some new plot details on the new installment did come out, however, along with news that the aim is to keep the budget below $200 million.

Rasulo finished by saying that Disney had no plans to make any other high-profile acquisitions, like it’s done with Pixar and Lucasfilm, in the near future, opting instead to buy back its stock.  Though they’ve got plenty to work with at the moment, they also said that they’re poised to strike if the right deal comes along.

  • NameGame

    For the sake of the company, it’s good to hear that Disney will be capping its blockbuster budgets. Their primary goal should be quality as opposed to quantity. Film is always a constant struggle between quality, quantity, and time.

    • RiddleThemThis

      I can imagine the sky being the limit for the Episode VII, then gauging the rest of their budgets based on that one’s performance.

      • http://www.brndbl.tumblr.com/ Ryan Donnell

        I agree, Star Wars is a different bird. They have an established base and know it will set box office records.

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  • MEY

    Fantastic future is approaching…
    And I hope Alex Pettyfer will be one of the presents of these beautiful years.

  • Brad Jemmi

    I say release a new SW film every other year to keep the films as highly anticipated as possible

    • http://www.brndbl.tumblr.com/ Ryan Donnell

      365 days is a long time. Marvel has shown over-saturation doesn’t happen in the industry if you make quality films.

  • Duder NME

    —–In other words, look for four-quadrant product placement for Star Wars across the board beyond films, TV shows and video games to other consumer products.————

    So why cancel 1313? Honestly Disney, make up your mouse-eared mind.

  • ScratStitch

    For the love of God, SHUT UP about The Lone Ranger and STOP using it as an excuse for budget cuts.

    Just because a movie based off of a TV show that’s HALF A CENTURY OLD
    disappointed doesn’t mean that STAR WARS and PIRATES will. Jeez. And the sad thing is they KNOW this. They just hope we’ll be too stupid to notice.

    “Paranoia bombed. Paranoia had Harrison Ford in it. OMG, THIS MEANS THAT ALL HARRISON FORD MOVIES IN THE FUTURE WILL BOMB BIG NOW!!!”

    You have to spend money to make these movies the way that they are….or
    would people have preferred it if The Avengers had been “small scale”?

    If you want to be greedy and cheap, be greedy and cheap. But don’t use The
    Lone Ranger as your “reason.” It’s an excuse, nothing more.

  • ld


    Star wars without lucas will be shit

    star wars with the hack jj will be crap!

    • simon s

      Agreed! Totally agree!

    • paul h

      Because the prequels were *so* awesome?

      Yeah… they sucked. Lucas can’t write dialogue for shit. His *lack* of involvement is the only thing that gives me any hope for their success.

      • RiddleThemThis

        I agree, the guy who created the original star wars trilogy is a hack.

      • paul h

        Well… apparently during the OT he had people around him who he’d listen to (wife/editor, producers, etc) by the time the PT came around he’d spent a decade (or more?) replacing those folks with ass kissing ‘yes men’, anyone who disagreed with him got the old heave-ho.

        On the Phantom Edit dvd there’s a commentary by the guy who did it, who happens to work in the industry as an editor, and during one part he tells a little story about how GL fired a junior editor from the Indy Chronicles tv show for just *suggesting* a different idea to the one Lucas proposed.

        I can imagine if he’d made the OT under the same conditions as the PT he would’ve excised Ford’s “I know” ad-lib from Empire – which by all accounts he hated (one of the OT’s most memorable lines!) and instead have whatever bit of tone-deaf dialogue he’d scripted.

        And lets not all forget, the new trilogy is based on an outline from GL, so his dna, for want of a better phrase, is still present but (thankfully) we wont have to put up with his shoddy dialogue, or his love for green screening *everything*.

    • eternalozzie

      10 “fail!”s do not give your argument validity … you failed to notice lucas is what made the prequels into cartoons with his overCGI’ification … and the dialog was terrible … like Twilight terrible or worse.
      Did anyone else notice Lucas’s storyline was exactly the same as Dune? A “chosen one” rises to power… his empire becomes evil … then his twins have to tear down that evil empire. #Wookiesinsteadofworms

      • bigfrog

        Lol – ever notice that the story of Dune is the same as Lawrence of Arabia? Just pointing that out, however I totally agree with your assessment of Mr. Lucas.

    • Lex Walker

      Star Wars *with* Lucas has been shit 3 times out of 4. Odds favor a shitless Lucas-Free Star Wars.

    • sven 17

      I hate jj so much, that I have absolutely no interest in star wars anymore, and thanks to his abysmal star trek remakes, I have lost all interest in star trek. JJ the hack dumbass, go to hell jj!

      • bigfrog

        I totally lost interest in Star Wars after the first 10 minutes of Phantom Menace where I saw my childhood betrayed. JJ gives me hope of at least a decent entry, he should be able to easily come up with the third best movie in the bunch.

      • RiddleThemThis

        Seriously? You were able to judge a 2 and a half hour movie in the first 10 minutes? It may just be me, but that’s pretty close-minded.

      • RhythMystic

        Specifically when the fatal flaw is horrific dialogue, of course you can judge a film in just a few minutes.

        Additional time spent suffering will not ever improve matters when that’s the core problem.

        If a someone can’t sing in key, nothing that happens later in a song is going to improve on what is plainly and painfully obvious in the very beginning.

      • bigfrog

        I remember one time somebody in all seriousness called me closed minded because Im not bisexual. Lol. I had high hopes for the prequels, it seemed pretty easy for Lucas to create something that at least equaled his previous work. All he had to do was hide out for a few months watching the old Kurosawa samurai westerns and everything would fall into place. Instead it seems he did nothing but watch Saturday morning cartoons particularly focusing on the toy commercials. BTW – I did see the original film in the theater in 1977 so I think I’m familair with the tone of the series, and for what it’s worth saw that atrocious prequel opening night at midnight.

    • Person

      JJ’s no hack, but I agree that I’m not looking forward to Star Wars without Lucas’s involvement. Once the creator’s gone, regardless of how good or bad he may have been, it’s just not the same beast anymore. Not that the prequels were great, but at least they were Lucas’s. I dunno how to explain it, but as much as I love Star Wars I just can’t get excited about these new movies. It ended in 2005 for me. This franchise is gonna become like Terminator without James Cameron.

  • todd

    I;d love to see Benedict Cumberbatch star in SW7.

  • ghdgirl

    I want to see Benedict Cumberbatch as a Sith Lord

  • Blues

    I want the Han Solo stand alone movie, Bobba Fett as a bounty hunter, Obi Wan living as a fugitive from the Empire between the trilogies, A Clone Trooper Squadron movie, and maybe some of the EU

    • moe74

      I like that one

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  • Man

    So far all I’ve seen is your total depreciation of the action figure collection… Thank you Disney for ruining another icon… I guess Marvel wasn’t enough for you…

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