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Disney CEO: ‘Star Wars’ One of the Best Moments in Company History

Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has sent Disney employees a thank-you letter just ahead of the company’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” release, which is expected to generate massive worldwide box office.

Iger opened the letter — sent Wednesday — by noting that Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, adding that three years later the film’s launch marks “one of the proudest and most exciting moments in our Company’s history.”

He added, “Unless you’ve been in a galaxy far, far away for the last few months, you’re probably aware that the global interest in this movie is absolutely stunning. Given the unprecedented excitement, we’re certainly expecting a very successful opening this weekend. (Okay, that may be the understatement of the century, but I’m trying to contain my enthusiasm!)”

“The Force Awakens” is already opening in a few international markets and is expected to open north of $200 million when it bows in the U.S. on Thursday evening.

Iger then singled out Disney Studios chief Alan Horn, Lucasfilm topper Kathy Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams.

“Kathy’s leadership has been key in successfully integrating Lucasfilm into Disney and in getting this historic movie made; and J.J. has directed and delivered an epic film that we are extremely proud of, one we know that millions of Star Wars fans—past, present, and future—will embrace,” he added.

“It’s been thrilling to see the remarkable level of teamwork behind this effort—every single business unit across the Company has been part of launching this movie and building the future of this franchise, ensuring it will generate value for our Company for generations to come.”

Iger succeeded Michael Eisner as Disney’s chief executive in 2005 and led the 2006 acquisition of Pixar, the 2009 buyout of Marvel Studios and the Lucasfilm deal.

“In the 10 years I’ve had the privilege of leading this phenomenal company, you have never ceased to amaze me through your talent, your dedication, and your hard work,” he said in the letter. “This has been another tremendous year, marked by creative triumphs, innovative leaps, strategic wins, and financial successes. We’ve risen to challenges, embraced change, and delivered our fifth straight year of record performance in the process.”

Iger concluded the missive by predicting robust performance in 2016.

“We’ll carry this momentum into a new year that promises to be our best yet, with the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort and an unprecedented pipeline of great new content on the way from the strongest brands in the business—Disney, ESPN, ABC, Pixar, Marvel and, of course, Star Wars.”

“Thank you for continuing to raise the bar and making it possible for us to achieve big, bold, ambitious goals. I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and prosperous New Year. (In other words—May the Force Be With You!)”

The entire letter follows:

 

Dear Fellow Employee,

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we welcomed Lucasfilm into our Company… and that we’re now on the eve of releasing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the proudest and most exciting moments in our Company’s history.

Unless you’ve been in a galaxy far, far away for the last few months, you’re probably aware that the global interest in this movie is absolutely stunning. Given the unprecedented excitement, we’re certainly expecting a very successful opening this weekend. (Okay, that may be the understatement of the century, but I’m trying to contain my enthusiasm!)

As we get ready to share Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the world, I want to personally thank Alan Horn and everyone at The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm for their phenomenal production and marketing efforts, particularly Kathy Kennedy and J.J. Abrams. Kathy’s leadership has been key in successfully integrating Lucasfilm into Disney and in getting this historic movie made; and J.J. has directed and delivered an epic film that we are extremely proud of, one we know that millions of Star Wars fans—past, present, and future—will embrace.

It’s been thrilling to see the remarkable level of teamwork behind this effort—every single business unit across the Company has been part of launching this movie and building the future of this franchise, ensuring it will generate value for our Company for generations to come.

We often talk about our people as the Company’s greatest strength and most valuable resource, because it’s true. In a business like ours, driven by creativity and innovation, nothing is more important than the men and women who dream of new possibilities, set new standards of excellence, and create new opportunities, then work together to achieve them. And we’re so fortunate to have thousands of cast members and employees around the world who accept the challenge and embody that spirit.

On the eve of yet another historic milestone, I offer my heartfelt thanks for everything you do to make The Walt Disney Company what it is today.

In the 10 years I’ve had the privilege of leading this phenomenal company, you have never ceased to amaze me through your talent, your dedication, and your hard work. This has been another tremendous year, marked by creative triumphs, innovative leaps, strategic wins, and financial successes. We’ve risen to challenges, embraced change, and delivered our fifth straight year of record performance in the process.

We’ll carry this momentum into a new year that promises to be our best yet, with the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort and an unprecedented pipeline of great new content on the way from the strongest brands in the business—Disney, ESPN, ABC, Pixar, Marvel and, of course, Star Wars.

Thank you for continuing to raise the bar and making it possible for us to achieve big, bold, ambitious goals. I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and prosperous New Year. (In other words—May the Force Be With You!)

Best,

Bob

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