Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy recently did an interview where she laughed at critics and definitively declared, “We didn’t make the movie for them.”
Kennedy did an interview with Tia A. Smith, the CEO and Executive Producer and Director of talentedSOL Productions, that was uploaded to the Producers Guild of America YouTube channel.
After a somewhat lengthy discussion on the Steven Spielberg directed film The Color Purple, which Kennedy produced back in 1985, Kennedy pivoted to criticism in general she has received outside of that film.
Smith asked Kennedy regarding the Color Purple, “How did you deal with the criticism? Because of course there were the talks and the opinions of, ‘Look at how black men are being portrayed. Can we get out of this era? Black people have done so much.’ … Why tell this story? How did you as a producer deal with that kind of criticism that we know can be extremely weighty because of the context?”
As part of her answer around the 21:00 minute mark, Kennedy specifically addressed The Color Purple saying, “I don’t think any of us, as I recall, felt a real need to have to defend what we had done. We had all made that decision a long time ago about how each of us, personally, were getting involved in this and committing to making this movie and telling this story.”
She then clearly pivoted to speaking in generalities about criticism, “There’s always going to be people when you make something that’s somewhat controversial that are just flat out not going to like what you’re doing. And we didn’t make the movie for them.”
“Ultimately, if that’s their response is to just cut it off and not even try. And, you know, so often, especially, you see it today, criticism like that sometimes comes before people have even seen something,” Kennedy continued.
“They haven’t even experienced it. It’s just something they might have heard or they’re jumping on the bandwagon of something that they think they might believe. I don’t know what you do about that, ultimately,” she said.
To conclude the question, Kennedy revealed she makes movies to try change people’s minds. She explained, “You try to make movies like this that create the conversation and maybe change a mind or two. And that’s good. And that’s all you can hope for.”
This response echoes what Disney CEO Bob Chapek said regarding how he sees Disney influencing the world.
During the The Walt Disney Company’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders in March, Chapek was asked about what the biggest lesson he learned in his first year as CEO.
As part of his answer he said, “I also say that I think the fact that we have a tremendous opportunity, now, going forward, to bring this country back together. And unite people under a common vision of Disney magic and what’s good with this world.”
What do you make of Kennedy’s comments?