Sorry “Star Wars” fans that fear the franchise is going in the wrong direction, the woman behind it all, Kathleen Kennedy, isn’t going anywhere. Much to the chagrin of those pundits out there that have been assuming that the Lucasfilm president was on the way out amid controversies surrounding “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” but alas, Disney has given Kennedy the ultimate vote of confidence — a contract extension.
According to THR, Kennedy has signed on for three extra years as overseer of all things Lucasfilm. Falling under Kennedy’s watchful eye is the upcoming “Star Wars” Skywalker Saga finale, ‘Episode IX,’ hitting theaters in December 2019, as well as the various “Star Wars” TV projects films in development and the upcoming “Indiana Jones 5.” The report also claims that Lucasfilm is shifting its focus from rushing “Star Wars” films out to looking at ways to expand its footprint on TV, with brand-new characters.
The extension for Kennedy comes after intense scrutiny around her job performance from industry insiders and rabid (“toxic”) fans. After everyone hailed Kennedy as a genius for relaunching “Star Wars” on the big screen with ‘The Force Awakens’ in 2015, things progressively have gone downhill for the Lucasfilm head in the minds of film fans.
First, there are the directorial shuffles. After ‘Rogue One’ was considered to be in trouble, Kennedy hired Tony Gilroy for damage control, to oversee the extensive reshoots and post-production. Even with the drama, ‘Rogue One’ still made over a billion dollars worldwide. She dodged the proverbial bullet. She wasn’t able to dodge twice, however. After replacing Phil Lord and Chris Miller on ‘Solo’ with Ron Howard, Kennedy had assumed she saved the film. Unfortunately, regardless of the quality of the finished product, ‘Solo’ flopped at the box office, earning far less than other “Star Wars” films in the modern era.
Then you have ‘The Last Jedi.’ While the Rian Johnson-helmed film sports a great 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has become the most controversial piece of “Star Wars” content in decades, with fans even going so far as wanting to remake the film themselves. Most put the blame on Johnson, but many understand that Kennedy is the person behind it all.
All that aside, she’s clearly a smart woman and a savvy film producer, so it’s clear why Disney re-upped her contract. We’ve been critical in the past regarding her hiring choices and the lack of diversity, so we’re hoping that this new contract, as well as Lucasfilm’s promise to take it slow with the franchise, yields better results on that front.