One weekend last October, Robert Iger, chief executive officer of Walt Disney (DIS), sat through all six Star Wars films. He’d seen them before, of course. This time, he took notes. Disney was in secret negotiations to acquire Lucasfilm, the company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, and Iger needed to do some due diligence.
The movies reacquainted Iger with Luke Skywalker, the questing Jedi Knight, and his nemesis Darth Vader, the Sith Lord who turns out to be (three-decade-old spoiler alert) his father. Beyond the movies, Iger needed to know Lucasfilm had a stockpile of similarly rich material—aka intellectual property—for more Star Wars installments. As any serious aficionado knows, there were always supposed to be nine. But how would Disney assess the value of an imaginary galaxy? What, for example, was its population?
As it turned out, Lucas had already done the cataloging. His company maintained a database called the Holocron, named after a crystal cube powered by the Force. The real-world Holocron lists 17,000 characters in the Star Wars universe inhabiting several thousand planets over a span of more than 20,000 years. It was quite a bit for Disney to process.