Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy recently provided an update on the future of Star Wars detailing where she sees the franchise going.
Speaking with TheWrap, Kennedy discussed The Mandalorian, its recent Emmy nominations, Baby Yoda the future of Star Wars, and more.
After discussing how the idea of The Mandalorian came about and her reaction to the Emmy nominations the series received, Kennedy is asked about how The Mandalorian captures the feel of the original trilogy despite the difference technological processes made to create the show compared to the original films.
Kennedy would agree that the show captures the feel of the original trilogy films stating, “I agree with you. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the advanced technology is actually allowing you to feel that way. I think that that’s really true.”
“I think that in an interesting way, it has all the DNA of what George (Lucas) was always interested in. He was trying so hard in pushing technology, but at the heart of it, it was still focused on storytelling and characters, and also a kind of lived-in feeling to everything,” she continued.
She then concluded the question saying, “Which I think is something certainly (“The Mandalorian” director/executive producer) Dave Filoni understands in all the work that he’s been doing for years inside the company, and something Jon always loved. The technology has never been an attempt to try to move this further into some kind of science-fiction world. It’s still in service to that original feeling.”
Later in the interview, Kennedy would go on to detail what the future of Star Wars would look like after The Rise of Skywalker.
TheWrap’s Steve Pond would ask, “At the end of last year, when “The Rise of Skywalker” came out, you said you wanted to take time out to think about where the franchise is going from there. Are you still doing that?”
Kennedy responded, “Oh yeah. It’s an ever-evolving process. You know, when I personally came into this, George had already been having conversations with his previous actors, Carrie (Fisher) and Harrison (Ford) and Mark (Hamill) — there was a saga that the fans loved and he never finished.”
She continued, “He always talked about doing nine movies and he was ready to complete that. And so our focus had been from the beginning on finishing that saga.”
Kennedy then detailed what Lucasfilm is doing to plan for the future of Star Wars, “And now we’re stepping back. Stories have been told within this universe over the last 40-odd years, and there’s now the realization that this is a mythology that actually spans about 25,000 years, when you really start to look at all the different stories that have been told, whether it’s in books and games.”
This is quite a shocking comment given Kennedy previously told Rolling Stone that Star Wars did not have source material.
She explained, “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. ”
Kennedy added, “We don’t have anything other than passionate storytellers who get together and talk about what the next iteration might be.”
Nevertheless, Kennedy would continue to answer TheWrap’s question stating, “We just need the time to step back and really absorb what George has created, and then start to think about where things might go. That’s what we’ve been doing, and we’ve been having a great deal of fun doing it, and meeting with lots of different filmmakers and talent.”
She added, “There’s so many fans out there and so many filmmakers that have been influenced by “Star Wars” for so long that it’s a fantastic opportunity to get a sense of who wants to be a part of this. So that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Again this is also quite a shocking statement given that Bob Iger made it perfectly clear that Disney and Lucasfilm wanted nothing to do with the Lucas’ treatments for the sequel trilogy.
Iger would even admit in his book, The Ride of a Lifetime: LESSONS LEARNED FROM 15 YEARS AS CEO OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, that Lucas felt betrayed by what Disney and Lucasfilm did to him.
Iger wrote, “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.”
“He knew that I was going to stand firm on the question of creative control, but it wasn’t an easy thing for him to accept. And so he reluctantly agreed to be available to consult with us at our request. I promised that we would be open to his ideas (this was not a hard promise to make; of course we would be open to George Lucas’s ideas), but like the outlines, we would be under no obligation,” Iger continued.
He then detailed that Lucas got upset after he had a meeting with Kennedy and J.J. Abrams about The Force Awakens, “Early on, Kathy brought J.J. and Michael Arndt up to Northern California to meet with George at his ranch and talk about their ideas for the film. George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations.”
Iger would then write, “The truth was, Kathy, J.J., Alan, and I had discussed the direction in which the saga should go, and we all agreed that it wasn’t what George had outlined. George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded.”
He then detailed that Lucas felt betrayed, “Now, in the first meeting with him about the future of Star Wars, George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.”
It’s quite interesting that Kennedy would now claim that they are taking a step to “absorb what George has created” when they in fact rejected what he had created for the sequel trilogy.
In fact, back in April 2019 Kennedy claimed that Lucasfilm was looking at what the next decade of Star Wars storytelling would be with RIan Johnson and Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
Kennedy told EW, “And we’re taking the time to really look at where this is going from the standpoint of a saga. We’re not just looking at what the next three movies might be, or talking about this in terms of a trilogy. We’re looking at: What is the next decade of storytelling?”
She then added, ““As they finish Game of Thrones, they’re going to segue into Star Wars. They’re working very closely with Rian.”
Weiss and Benioff would exit Star Wars in October 2019. Johnson, who was supposed to be working on a new Star Wars trilogy following the release of The Last Jedi, has not been attached to Star Wars since The Last Jedi divided Star Wars fans and began tanking the franchise.
Kennedy would also echo what Iger had previously stated during the Q2 investor’s call that Lucasfilm’s priority for Star Wars is television.
When asked if television would be very important to the franchise, Kennedy stated, “I do. And I’ve already seen evidence of it. The ability to be very character-driven, with extended storytelling and connected storytelling, I think this space offers us a great opportunity to do that.”
Kennedy also outlined that one of Lucasfilm’s priorities it to hire female directors. Kennedy stated, “It’s absolutely a priority. It’s been very exciting to see the talent that’s come in. And we’re now developing the limited Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Deborah Chow, and she’s just been doing a phenomenal job.”
“Certainly, the kind of television that’s being made now is going to give many people an opportunity to direct more and be more involved with shows that have special effects and extended production values,” she continued.
Kennedy then concluded, “It really gives people an opportunity to move into big technical movies. That’s exciting. I think we can develop a lot of new talent and it’s about time.”
What do you make of Kennedy’s comments regarding the future of Star Wars? Do you believe her?