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TOTAL PANIC At Lucasfilm STAR WARS! Kathleen Kennedy Can’t Figure Out How To Make A New Film!

by 11.03.2022

Kathleen Kennedy’s stewardship of the movie franchise continues to baffle as a key right-hand exits and a new film, perhaps the one in development with Damon Lindelof, isn’t expected until at least 2025, six years after ‘Rise of Skywalker.’ With Marvel churning out multiple movies every year, such a massive pause is borderline corporate negligence.

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Kathleen Kennedy’s stewardship of the movie franchise continues to baffle as a key right-hand exits and a new film, perhaps the one in development with Damon Lindelof, isn’t expected until at least 2025, six years after ‘Rise of Skywalker.’ With Marvel churning out multiple movies every year, such a massive pause is borderline corporate negligence.
Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm
Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

MATTHEW BELLONI
October 23, 2022
Last November, right after Patty Jenkins’ much-touted Rogue Squadron was placed on the dreaded back burner, I politely asked Disney C.E.O. Bob Chapek to remove Star Wars movies from the purview of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. After five films and about $6 billion in box office under Disney, this A+-level film franchise—a property other studios would kill for—had been essentially left half-digested in a Sarlacc pit.
No continuing storylines, no new characters worth following, several top-tier creators hired and then discarded, and little overarching creative vision. Lucasfilm was continuing to churn out a mixed bag of competently made and highly-watched series for Disney+, but on the film side, the franchise was essentially dormant, and, at least to me, Kennedy’s stewardship was a stunning example of I.P. mismanagement.
Maybe I was a bit harsh. But now, nearly a year later, things are… pretty much the same. No new Star Wars film before at least December 2025, which would be a six year gap after the much-maligned The Rise of Skywalker. You can argue that former C.E.O. Bob Iger’s initial one-movie-a-year mandate was too much, and that it led to rushed decision-making and hired-and-fired filmmakers like Gareth Edwards (Rogue One), Lord and Miller (Solo) and Colin Trevorrow (Rise of Skywalker), and that a little break for a reset is a good thing.
But with Marvel churning out multiple movies and D+ series every year, such a massive pause at Lucasfilm is borderline corporate negligence. And that’s if the 2025 date holds. After all, none of the three projects that are furthest along in development have been officially greenlit. Disney’s D23 event came and went last month without Kennedy offering even a status update on the film side. (Next summer’s Indiana Jones, also from Lucasfilm, did get a spotlight.)
Yes, the company has been focused on stocking Disney+ with Star Wars shows like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the currently airing (and very good, though underwatched) Andor, and the in-the-works Ahsoka, The Acolyte, and The Skeleton Crew. If Mandalorian hadn’t hit so big right out of the gate in 2019 and established a template for a big I.P.-driven streaming series, would Disney+ be anywhere near 152 million subscribers worldwide? Similarly, Star Wars is still thriving in the theme parks and on store shelves.
All the more reason why the film franchise seems adrift. At this point, part of the hesitation is simply media management. I’m told Kennedy was advised by Disney to stop announcing projects and creative partners, lest the ravenous nerd press pounce when those projects don’t actually happen, as is the case frequently at Lucasfilm. Remember that hokey video with Jenkins in a flight suit that played at Disney’s investor day in 2020? Ummm… Or the triumphant press releases about new trilogies from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and the Game of Thrones guys? Seems like ancient history now.

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