It was 1995 and at the age of five my life was forever changed—I fell in love with the epic space opera Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. That Halloween I dressed up as Darth Vader and vividly recall making some candy fly into my trick-or-treat box through nothing more than my mastery of the force! My Star Wars mania accelerated as I immersed myself in Star Wars books and video games, all as I fantasized about a galaxy far far away. It should come as no surprise that I, along with many Star Wars fanatics, approached the announcement of Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm  and Disney’s intent to create another Star Wars trilogy  with moderated skepticism. It was as recently as 2008 that George Lucas, my Jedi hero and the creator of Star Wars, stated that “there will definitely be no Episodes VII-IX…that’s because there isn’t any story” . Surprised as I was, I resolved to dig into Disney and understand if Lucas had, in fact, fallen to the dark side.
Disney’s Business Model Canvas—A Recipe for Success
My first foray of research led me to Disney’s Business Model Canvas , which looks for parallels between Disney’s five business segments—Parks & Resorts, Media Networks, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Interactive, and Studio Entertainment. At the core of Disney’s strength is the firm’s ability to reinforce and align one business segment with another, enabling Disney to focus on finding powerful creative assets that generate fundamental value across all of Disney’s entertainment assets. This idea is perfectly illustrated in the sketch above from the Disney Archives, originally published in 1957 . This diagram, while updated and rebranded as the Disney Business Model Canvas, outlines that Disney has a business model advantage wherein the firm is able to not only create synergies with acquired assets, but also unique synergies across all operating assets that no other competitor can. For example, in recent history Disney acquired ABC & ESPN (1995), Fox Family (2001), Pixar (2006), Marvel (2009), and Lucasfilm (2012). These acquisitions have led Disney to 40% revenue growth in the last decade with an operating margin of 20.50%, which is a significant out-performance to its industry comparables . From a stock price perspective Disney has increased from $23.75 to $114.24, a 381% net increase and 17.01% 10-year CAGR.  However, as a die-hard fan I care more about the creative results Disney has delivered, not the firm’s financial dominance, right?
Disney’s Operating Assets—A Boon for the Star Wars Universe
Arguably, wrong! Disney’s financial success hinges on its ability foster content-creation. A case in point is Marvel Studios. Since Disney acquired Marvel there have been seven new movies released from the Marvel brand, including the Avengers and Iron Man 3, which grossed $1.5B  and $1.25B , respectively. Incredible financial results aside, the Avengers scored a 92%  on Rotten Tomatoes and Iron Man 3 a 79% . Additionally, as part of the Walt Disney Company, Marvel fans now have the ability to live out their creative fantasies through a host of additional entertainment including: video games, books, T.V. shows, and toys.
Now to the critical question: can we expect the same results for Star Wars? In short, YES! When Disney acquired Lucasfilm it set in motion a galaxy-sized plan (see above) that is expected to more than double the creative content of the entire Star Wars universe over the next five years by leveraging all five of Disney’s operating assets . Examples include the newly released Battlefront video game and plans for Star Wars attractions at Disney’s theme parks. For fans this means more ways than ever to interact with the canon. Fans that are still skeptical can rest easier knowing that Lucasfilm was purchased with 40M Disney shares making George Lucas Disney’s second-largest non-institutional shareholder, meaning the creative and financial success of Star Wars ties directly to Lucas’ own success .
The Light Side Prevails!
Disney will triumph over the Dark Side because its unique business model enables Mickey to acquire and multiply existing content bonanzas across its five operating assets to create more value to fans and shareholders than any competitor. Personally, I couldn’t be more excited! Now I can finally live out my child-hood Darth Vader fantasies at Disneyland, online and once again on the big screen!
Source of featured image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZi_OIcxp44