Rumors of Kathleen Kennedy stepping down from her role of President of Lucasfilm are greatly exaggerated. She’s not going anywhere anytime soon. She is, however, working on plans with Marvel Studio head Kevin Feige for a new wave of projects set in the Star Wars universe.
She’s “pursuing a new era in ‘Star Wars’ storytelling” according to what Walt Disney Studios co-chairman Alan Horn told the Hollywood Reporter, who went on to say that “knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a ‘Star Wars’ film together.”
According to sources, Feige had a late summer meeting to talk about a foray into the Star Wars universe, speaking with Kennedy and studio co-chairmen Alan Horn and Alan Bergman. They spoke about projects ranging from Star Wars to Indiana Jones, and Children of Blood and Bone with Emma Watts and Fox.
Nobody knows for sure whether this heralds a new era for Feige at Lucasfilm, or is just a reflection of Feige’s deep affection for the Star Wars universe. Feige is already tossing around ideas for major casting decisions if and when he actually gets to make his Star Wars film.
The Idea Could Fly
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to hit theaters Dec. 20, so it makes sense that Disney would want to keep public chatter about the future of the franchise as much under wraps as possible. Episode IX is meant to be the final installment in the Skywalker saga, as first launched by George Lucas in 1977. They’re also hoping to win back fans after a good chunk of Star Wrs fandom decided that the film franchise had somehow lost its way, even though reviews were largely positive and the film grossed $1.3 billion worldwide.
From the standpoint of box office revenues, things are still in pretty solid condition. Feige has led Marvel Studios through a record breaking run of hits, including including four of the top 10 movies ever released. Avengers: Endgame is the top grosser of all time, pulling down a solid $2.9 billion (that’s Billion with a B) this summer, passing James Cameron’s Avatar. Feige still has a strong hand at the helm for the upcoming packed slate of Marvel superhero films and TV shows, and Disney owns both Marvel and Lucasfilm now, so thundergod-style talent crossovers like this potential Feige deal become that much more possible.
Kathleen Kennedy has been president of Lucasfilm since 2012. She is one of the very few women in top executive jobs at Disney, but she was picked for the job by Lucas before he sold his company for $4 billion that year. In September 2018, she renewed her contract for three years. She has overseen the production of tens of billions of dollars worth of successful motion pictures, going back as far as 1982’s E.T. The Extraterrestrial, and including nearly 100 titles. Sorry, haters, she’s the most powerful woman in Hollywood, and she’s not going anywhere.
This isn’t to say the Star Wars franchise hasn’t had its problems. So far, the four Star Wars films produced for Disney have grossed almost $4.5 billion, but while Feige has churned out one Marvel hit after another, putting the Force back into the Star Wars franchise has been less than easy.
Gareth Edwards was pulled aside as director of 2016’s Rogue One, with Tony Gilroy rescuing the film and shooting the third act. The film went on to become a hit, generating strong reviews and $1.1 billion worldwide, but the film had been in serious trouble. Likewise, Kennedy had to sack LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller from their directors’ roles on Solo, over their off-the-cuff improvisational style. Ron Howard had to step in to fix that one, and grossing only $392 million, it became the first film in the franchise to actually lose money by the time all the advertising and promotion costs were factored in. Then Colin Trevorrow was pulled as director of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and replaced by J.J. Abrams.
The public perception is that Disney – and Kathleen Kennedy – are flailing, despite making good bank on the franchise. Disney chairman Bob Iger conceded in a recent New York Times interview that the studio had made mistakes. “I just think that we might’ve put a little bit too much in the marketplace too fast,” he said.
Ummm … yeah.
Disney and Lucasfilm have now taken a step back to catch their collective breath, and slowing down the pace of Star Wars films in an apparent realization that it’s better to get them done right than to get them done fast. That said, they’re still working on future movies. Both Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are working on feature projects set in the Star Wars universe. And now that Disney is ramping up its streaming service Disney+, Lucasfilm will be an important piece of their content supply. Jon Favreau’s live-action Star Wars space Western, The Mandalorian, is set to premiere Nov. 12, and a Rogue One prequel series is in the works, as is an Ewan McGregor-led Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
President of Krypton Media Group, Inc., radio personality and station manager of SCIFI.radio. Part writer, part animator, part musician, part illustrator, part programmer, part entrepreneur – all geek.