Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy recently admitted that under her leadership and Disney’s stewardship that the company has taken the fun out of Star Wars.
In a wide-ranging piece in Vanity Fair about all the Star Wars projects Lucasfilm is working on, Kennedy discussed her failures with Solo: A Star Wars Story, how Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni came together to create The Mandalorian, and what her plans for Star Wars are moving forward.
At the very end of the article, Kennedy detailed that she had a realization after watching a video montage of herself, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg when she received the Milestone Award from the Producers Guild of America.
She told Vanity Fair, “What I was so taken with is how much fun we were having. It amounted to this moment of realization: I do think a little bit of fun has gone out of making these gigantic movies.”
“The business, the stakes, everything that’s been infused in the last 10 years or so. There’s a kind of spontaneity and good time that we have to be careful to preserve. I keep holding on to: It better be fun,” she added.
While Kennedy is clearly discussing the making of the films, and that under her leadership “a little bit of fun has gone out,” that lack of fun on the creative end has also been reflected in the end product.
Droves of people tuned out as Kennedy released each subsequent Disney Star Wars film that can be seen in the films’ box office haul with The Force Awakens earning over $2 billion in 2015 and The Rise of Skywalker in 2019 barely grossed over $1 billion. The grosses declined nearly 50%.
Along with people checking out of Star Wars en mass, you also had creatives like Rian Johnson and J.J. Abrams suck the fun out of the franchise when they decided to attack the fans.
In 2018, Abrams claimed Star Wars fans were threatened by having Rey be the trilogy’s main protagonist. He told IndieWire, “Their problem isn’t ‘Star Wars,’ their problem is being threatened.”
He elaborated, “‘Star Wars’ is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in ‘Star Wars.’ If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in ‘Star Wars.'”
“You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did [‘Star Wars: A New Hope’] and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that,” he declared.
Rian Johnson would infamously describe Star Wars fans as manbabies tweeting back in June 2018, “What we talk about when we talk about manbabies.”
He would then respond to one user who said “You ruined Star Wars,” tweeting, “Ok, I have to draw the line at you dragging your drooly little manbaby butt across the wheel of fortune answers account. Back to the swamp, you’re free/blocked.”
Kennedy also took the fun out when she decided to fire Gina Carano from The Mandalorian over an Instagram Story post warning of the dangers of hating your neighbors.
But before she fired Carano, she admitted that her entire plan with Star Wars was to fundamentally change it from the beginning.
Kennedy admitted she took the boys brand in Star Wars and wanted to make it a girls brand.
She explained, “I think the interesting path we’ve had is the conversation that took place around consumer products. Because there were a lot of companies that were in place who frankly didn’t initially feel that Star Wars was for girls.”
Kennedy elaborated, “And when you have a company situation where between Lucasfilm and Disney, we were all looking at this situation saying, ‘No, with Star Wars we have to change this. We have to make sure that we create products that are in a sense appealing to both boys and girls.’ What’s wrong with that?”
She would go on to admit that it was her goal to emphasize identity politics in the films and TV shows, “The fact that the company was bought by The Walt Disney Company has been amazing because they very much support the fact that we are trying to grow in the work force a number of women in executive positions and in all positions inside the company.”
“And with the movies that we are making and with the protagonists that we are putting in the stories. So I get a huge amount of support with that,” Kennedy continued.
She then touted, “But we have 50% of our executive team are women. And six out of eight of the people in my story group are women. And I’m sure there’s a lot of people that would be surprised that we’re making Star Wars movies and the majority of the people involved in the development of those stories are women. And I think it’s making a huge difference in the stories that we’re trying to tell.”
It’s hard to imagine that Kennedy will be able to inject fun back into Star Wars when she is one of the main reasons it was removed in the beginning. However, she did claim she has a “road map” that the beginnings of were seemingly put together just before The Rise of Skywalker was released in early 2019.
Kennedy revealed, ““We all recognized, every single one of us, that this was a new chapter for the company and that we needed to all work together to create the architecture for where we were going.”
As for what they came up with for theatrical releases it will include films from Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron movie.
What doesn’t appear to be on Kennedy’s map is a film produced by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, despite writer Michael Waldron recently admitting that he’s already begun work on the script.
Waldron was asked by Variety, “Now that you’re done with this movie, how far along are you with the “Star Wars” movie you’re working on with Feige?”
He answered, “We’re finally into it in earnest. I mean, I’m writing away. It’s a lot of fun. I’m enjoying having the freedom on that to do something that’s not necessarily a sequel or anything.”
“It maybe has a little bit less of a — it just doesn’t have a bunch of TV shows and movies that you’re servicing on top of it, the way I did with “Doctor Strange.” So it’s nice. It feels like a different exercise,” he concluded.
Despite Waldron claiming he’s working on a script for a Kevin Feige produced Star Wars film, Kennedy told Vanity Fair, “I would love to see what movie he might come up with, but right now, no, there isn’t anything specifically.”
So maybe the road map was lifted from The Goofy Movie and it was rewritten when Kennedy wasn’t looking.
Kennedy was clear that Rian Johnson’s announced trilogy is not happening telling Vanity Fair, “Rian has been unbelievably busy with Knives Out and the deal that he made at Netflix for multiple movies.”
Vanity Fair described Johnson’s trilogy as “back-burnered.”
Not only did Kennedy admit that under her leadership she drained the fun out of Star Wars and aims to try and recapture it, but as noted above she discussed her failures with Solo: A Star Wars Story and the casting of Alden Ehrenreich as a younger Han Solo.
“There should be moments along the way when you learn things,” Kennedy said. “Now it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.”
Another failure Kennedy admits is the constant rotating of creatives at the helm of Star Wars. She now says creatives have to commit to at least three years minimum.
Kennedy detailed, “Anyone who comes into the Star Wars universe needs to know that it’s a three-, four-, five-year commitment.”
She added, “That’s what it takes. You can’t step in for a year and shoot something and then walk away…. It requires that kind of nurturing.”
What do you make of Kennedy admitting that she oversaw the removal of fun from Star Wars? Do you think she will be able to bring that fun back with her road map?