In an interview earlier this year, George Bodenheimer, Chairman and former President of ESPN, emphasized how careful Disney has been not to trample on the ESPN way. "I credit Disney with recognizing that the culture of ESPN is a major part of its strength. You could see an acquiring company going a different way." At Pixar, part which was actually owned by George Lucas before it was sold to Steve Jobs, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, the same is true; a visit to the campus reveals a culture completely independent, with no evidence at all that Disney owns it. "It's like we're off the grid," said Catmull earlier this year.
Iger: Disney will "protect" Star Wars
Iger personally negotiated the deal with Steve Jobs, who was then Pixar’s CEO. As part of the deal, Iger kept the creative team, led by John Lasseter, in place and allowed them to continue to operate with a minimum of interference in their headquarters near San Francisco. “Steve and I spent more time negotiating the social issues than we did the economic issues,” Iger says. “He thought maintaining the culture of Pixar was a major ingredient of their creative success. He was right.”
In 2009, Iger negotiated a similar deal for Disney to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Once again, Iger kept the leadership intact: Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter and Marvel studio chief Kevin Feige. He thought Disney would profit from their deep knowledge of the superhero movie genre.
Lucas had paid close attention to how Disney had handled Pixar, which he still refers to as “my company.” He founded it as the Lucasfilm Computer Division in 1979, and sold it to Jobs six years later. He calls Disney’s decision not to meddle with Pixar “brilliant.” If he sold Lucasfilm to Disney, he figured there might still be a way to retain some influence over his fictitious universe. Much would depend on who ran Lucasfilm after he retired.
“When Kathy came on, we started talking about starting up the whole franchise again,” he says. “I was pulling away, and I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to build this company up so it functions without me, and we need to do something to make it attractive.’ So I said, ‘Well, let’s just do these movies.’”
Lucas and Kennedy hired screenwriter Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine, to begin work on the script for Episode VII. They enlisted Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, to act as a consultant. Lucas started talking to members of the original Star Wars cast, such as Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, about appearing in the films. In June 2012, he called Iger.
In the five months of negotiations that followed, Lucas argued that the best people to make the next Star Wars trilogy would be his longtime Lucasfilm executives. “I had a group of very, very talented people that had worked for the company for many, many years and really knew how to market Star Wars, how to do the licensing and make the movies,” Lucas explains. “I said, ‘I think it would be wise to keep some of this intact. We need a few people to oversee the property, you know, who are just dedicated to doing that, so we’re sure we get this right.’”
How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars'
And the LucasArts point, while a separate issue, was most definitely under Disney's discretion. They put a hold on most LA projects last fall, like the 1313 game (which was going to tie into the live action series)
That's all rumor. The fate of 1313 was called into question just recently and when asked Lucasarts responded, "Star Wars 1313 continues production." So far only unidentified "sources" have claimed otherwise.