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Given recent – and upcoming events – is Kathleen Kennedy finished with Star Wars?

December 17th, 2019 by Marc Comments

Ok, so now the the dust has settled and we’re only a week away from the final instalment in the Skywalker sage, The Rise of Skywalker, I want to take a breath and look at what has been happening with Lucasfilm/Star Wars boss Kathleen Kennedy.

Now, we all know that when George Lucas sold Star Wars and Lucasfilm to Disneyhe did so in the understanding that Kathleen Kennedy – a legend in the film industry who worked on some of the biggest movies ever made, including Star Wars – would continue the legacy and may even use the ideas Lucas himself had for the future of the franchise and, while Disney boss Bob Iger (see the link), Kennedy and JJ Abrams quickly disregarded Lucas’ ideas: “At some point in the process, George told me that he had completed outlines for three new movies. He agreed to send us three copies of the outlines: one for me; one for Alan Braverman; and one for Alan Horn, who’d just been hired to run our studio. Alan Horn and I read George’s outlines and decided we needed to buy them, though we made clear in the purchase agreement that we would not be contractually obligated to adhere to the plot lines he’d laid out,” Kennedy has said.

And so, Kathleen Kennedy led Star Wars into the fray anew. And for a while, it all went well.

The Force Awakens was, for the most part, warmly embraced by the fans, as was Rogue One, however when Rian Johnson took over things took an unexpected turn.

Now, I don’t think anyone will argue that they have no problem with a bad movie – and many, myself included, believe The Last Jedi WAS a bad movie – as we’ve been here before with the prequels, however, what the fans did have an issue with was how Kennedy and the folks at Disney dealt with the criticism; they labelled fans sexist and racist for not liking the movie and, don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt those knuckle-draggers are out there, but many just felt the movie disregarded the mythology, held no reverence for the characters and basically made Star Wars something unrecognisable, wrapped up in a poorly made movie.

Let’s be honest, for many the scene in Canto Bight featuring Rose and Finn was enough to put them off… an entirely pointless scene/plot point that saw the duo go to a casino planet on a mission that could have been wrapped up a lot sooner. It’s not as if gambling can’t be done well in movies… just look at the Ocean’s movies, the Gambler, Molly’s Game or Rounders; all these movies were based around the concept of gambling, casinos, and about the easy rules of blackjack and about the game itself. Which by the way, became a subject for many documentary films recently. but, while the concept was one rarely touched on in the Star Wars universe, here it was wasted and poorly executed, being reduced to slap-stick comedy and poorly rendered CGI creatures.

Many fans after this swore they were done with Star Wars until they – and the franchise they loved so much – was treated with dignity and respect.

And then Solo came next and was the first Star Wars movie to ever lose money (and it was actually a lot of fun). Many loyalists deny this was because of The Last Jedi… but I think it’s hard to argue otherwise and, if reports of Bob Iger disgracing Kennedy on a live conference call (with many Disney suits present), it’s not just the fans that think things have taken a bad turn.

But, they renewed her contract for another three years, I hear many of you shouting. Well, yes they did, but rumours persist that, given the current age of #MeToo, Disney were afraid to be seen to unceremoniously fire one of the most powerful women in Hollywood and have given her time to clear out her desk and prepare to take a less prominent role in Star Wars’ future once the current Skywalker sage comes to an end.

But is this true? All of it?

Well, over the last few weeks Kennedy has been talking in the lead up to The Rise Of Skywalker and has said a few things that have made fans mad and also made them wonder what exactly she means.

Such as?

Well, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the producer commented: “Every one of these movies is a particularly hard nut to crack. There’s no source material. We don’t have comic books. We don’t have 800-page novels. We don’t have anything other than passionate storytellers who get together and talk about what the next iteration might be.”

Now there are a few thing that stand out here. Firstly, there ARE hundreds of comics and novels to draw from, with the expansive Expanded Universe being a massive part of Star Wars lore before the dark times, before mouse. Indeed, these books, played a big part in keeping the Star Wars fandom alive in the dark times between the original movies and the prequels and then again before the Disney movies, so it is understandable why this got fans’ backs up… either she was being disrespectful or she really has no idea what exists in the world of Star Wars which is even more infuriating when you consider it was her, we’re told, who relegated all the history outside the movies and TV shows into the realm of ‘Legends’ or, in other words, not part of the official canon anymore.

However, there is a possibility the is something else at play here.

A while ago Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss, who were due to create a standalone trilogy of movies, walked away from them in favour of a better deal with Netflix. Undoubtedly, this had an impact on Kennedy’s plans for Star Wars, so, and stick with me, could her comments have been throwing shade at them? Implying they only had success because of the books they based the show on? After all, neither Benioff or Weiss had much of a track record before GoT.

So, if so, who is the comics comment aimed at? Well, could it be Kevin Feige?

Not too long ago Feige, the man who made Marvel the biggest franchise in history, revealed that he is set to bring us a Star Wars movie (here) which led to rumours that he was set to take over control of Marvel. although, with his big undertakings going beyond the Marvel movies, it’s unlikely he will have time for Star Wars too.

Indeed, Kennedy had this to say on Feige’s project: “Kevin has been a huge fan of Star Wars, and he’s made that pretty clear. And I think when he went off to do a couple of the Spider-Man movies, he realized that he could kind of step in and out of what he’s doing specifically with just Marvel. He talked to us, and he talked to the studio and said, ‘You know, ‘Is there any chance I could step in and do one of the Star Wars movies?’. And I thought it was a pretty cool idea. So we’re just beginning to talk about what that might be and when that might be. But it’s a ways off.”

Now, of course, this could well be speculation… I have no way of knowing for sure either way, but I do think her comments are odd and her presence has been less… dominating recently. Think about it, hasn’t she been keeping a low profile?

“I feel really fortunate that I’ve worked with so many great people that have been absolutely committed, JJ [Abrams] being one of them. He’s a huge fan, incredibly passionate about Star Wars, and has been from the moment he and I sat down and started talking about this. And the more he got involved, the more excited he became. So I think if you asked him today, he probably wishes he’d been in a situation where he could have done all three — but as I said, these are huge projects. So it’s very difficult unless there’s three or four years in between. It’s not really physically possible,” she has said.

Hmmmmmmm… “I feel really fortunate that I’ve worked with so many great people that have been absolutely committed”? sounds a little final to me. But what do I know?

But, let’s say for a second that she is stepping back in a similar way that Amy Pascall at Sony did by still keeping a nice title, but being a little less involved, who would be stepping up?

Well, enter The Mandalorian.

From the comments and locations of said comments on social media, The Mandalorian is one of the illegally downloaded TV shows since, well, Game of Thrones.

The series, now on episode 6, kicked off Disney’s subscription service Disney+ and has been almost unanimously welcomed by the fans, and with good reason.

It’s well written, has great characters and pay respect to the mythology of the saga while not being afraid to do its own thing (baby Yoda!!!) and it’s brought to the screen primarily by Jon Favreau, Disney’s golden boy who, it could be argued kicked-off the MCU by directing Iron Man and who also happens to be a massive Star Wars nerd. He’s followed up by second-in-command Dave Filoni, close friend to Lucas and a man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Star Wars who also happened to be showrunner on The Clone Wars and Rebels.

These two together are a formidable Force (cough) in the Star Wars community and, according to Lucasfilm senior vp live-action development and production Michelle Rejwan, they will have “a lot of say over the future of Star Wars.”

“We’ve got various things we’re looking at and various ways in which we can begin or not,” Kennedy says on the future of Star Wars.

“As you can imagine. You know, do you go back? Do you go forward? All those questions are being asked. Do we stay in this galaxy? Do we go to another? The universe is never-ending. [Laughs.] The good news and the bad news. They have endless possibilities. It’s liberating, it’s exciting, and it creates a lot of pressure and anxiety as well.”

She adds that her own future is less expansive: “What happens in the future, and how long and how much longer I do this? I don’t know yet. I’m looking at all of that.”

This does sound a little ominous, does it not? But let’s be honest, Kennedy has had a prestigious career and at 66 she’s well entitled to be looking at a relaxing retirement.

And with the news at in the new year Disney will confirm the director for their 2022 mysterious Star Wars movie, I will be very surprised if neither Favreau (who wanted to direct The Force Awakens, fact fans) or Filoni don’t get the nod – Filoni has directed episodes of The Mandalorian and has proven himself just fine – and if this happens, I’d say the safe money will be on them stepping into the Star Wars version of  Kevin Feige’s role once Kennedy’s extended contract runs out.

And don’t forget, once The Rise of Skywalker comes out, Kathleen Kennedy will have fronted five movies in the galaxy far, far away and will have closed the book on the Skywalkers. Would there be a better time to pass the torch on?

Let me know your thoughts, gang.

Sources: EW, ColliderRolling Stone,

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….