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Kathleen Kennedy on The Rise of Skywalker and the Future of Star Wars, Including Her Own

Discussion in 'SWNN News Feed' started by SWNN Probe, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. SWNN Probe

    SWNN Probe Seeker

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    Kathleen Kennedy has been producing movies since Ronald Reagan's first term. After four decades as one of the most successful producers in movie history, the Lucasfilm President is about to deliver the conclusion to the Skywalker saga, which in turn opens up many questions about the future beyond the most dramatic family in the galaxy. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kennedy opens up about Episode IX, George Lucas, and the future of Star Wars, including her own.

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is not just the end of the new trilogy, but a bookend to George Lucas's ever-evolving saga that revolved around the Skywalker family. That isn't to say we are saying goodbye forever to Rey, Finn, Poe, and our evergreen supporting characters, but we are saying goodbye to the Skywalkers, and Kathleen Kennedy understands that responsibility. The most interesting part of this interview to me is Kathleen Kennedy's candidness, with the strictly business side of her personality dominating the early part of the conversation. The reason she has been so successful is because she has zero hesitation to make difficult decisions, and has no problem wearing the weight of those decisions on her back. If you're going to conclude a 40-plus year saga, you better get the right people involved.

    Throughout the creative process of Star Wars films since 2012, Kennedy has had to make shrewd decisions, some of which coming as late in the game as mid-production, like the firing of Lord and Miller from Solo: A Star Wars Story. Lord and Miller are great at what they do, but they weren't a fit for Star Wars, and Kennedy had no problems making the tough decision before things got any worse. In addition to Solo, Rogue One had to bring in Tony Gilroy to gut and re-work a lot of the movie, and Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, Book of Henry) was removed from writing and directing Episode IX when an agreement on creative direction couldn't be reached. Kennedy does not mince words about these situations, which are never easy decisions, but ones she makes using instincts harnessed from over 40 years of producing some of the biggest movies of all time.
    J.J. Abrams offers a strong level of stability to a franchise that needed it to create and produce what some may consider the most important movie in the franchise since the 'original ending' Return of the Jedi. Kennedy couldn't gush over Abrams enough, and that doesn't come as a surprise considering Abrams co-wrote and directed The Force Awakens, the biggest movie in North American history, that brought Star Wars films back to life after a decade-long slumber. But Abrams knew he wanted someone with him to properly write the conclusion to this story. Enter Chris Terrio, and it sounds like Kennedy put full trust in Abrams' choice to co-write the end of the Skywalker saga.


    The Rise of Skywalker is not in the can yet, and despite massive amounts of landfill trash clickbait 'articles' and YouTube selfie videos spouting made up stories about the production, the reality of the situation is the movie is completed but Abrams and team are running a fine-tooth comb through it to get things exactly right. That may sound rogue or unstable to some, but it is actually very reminiscent of the production environment of a few movies you may have heard of: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
    Kennedy spoke a bit about The Last Jedi, and appreciating and loving the risks Rian Johnson took with the film, acknowledging making the same movie over and over again doesn't serve the saga well. I agree with this. I know many people who did not like Episode VIII, but I believe the film will age well and stand on its own as an entry in the saga just as any other episode. We need to remember that The Empire Strikes Back wasn't always considered the gold-standard Star Wars movie. It's also possible The Last Jedi remains a controversial film forever, time will tell. One thing I do know is that Disney has always kept their ear to the ground and listened to their fans, and that filters down to Lucasfilm too.
    #MakeSolo2Happen anyone? Sorry, I had to, you knew it was coming. Okay back to it.

    What is Star Wars Beyond the Skywalkers? Difficult to see, the future is. It is a fair question, which Jon Favreau is attempting to answer with The Mandalorian through episodic 'TV' storytelling. But the question remains, can Star Wars films tell new stories that have absolutely no connection to the core saga? That is the biggest question Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm face as they look to the future, to the horizon.

    For what it's worth, I heard rumblings that Kathleen Kennedy recently held a sort of 'mission statement' gathering, getting together with her entire team to try and figure out how to move the franchise forward, looking for ideas that sound right. There is without question uncertainty on what Star Wars is beyond the core saga, which is understandable. All Star Wars storytelling over the last five decades have been tied to it. This is arguably the biggest challenge the franchise has had to face and Kennedy is candid in saying they are still exploring this without any concrete plan at the moment. Disney Plus came at the right time, as Star Wars fans will be well fed on that platform while Lucasfilm figures out where to take the future of the franchise theatrically. It probably didn't hurt when Kevin Feige called her up and asked if he could make a Star Wars movie.

    Kennedy's future with the company is uncertain, even to her. She is signed through 2021 which should take us through the first seasons of Cassian Andor and the Kenobi series, and will be a year before the next Star Wars film hits theaters. She is thinking about her future, but appears more focused on embracing what they have achieved in the present. I am not a speech-decoder, but it sounds like it's possible Kennedy sees an end in sight. I sense a sort of 'my watch has ended' feeling, that she fulfilled what her plan was, to continue and complete the story of the Skywalkers. It definitely does not sound like the 'we're looking at the next ten years of Star Wars films' quote we heard a couple of years ago. So we'll see how the next two years shake out.


    Kathleen Kennedy, and anyone running Star Wars will have detractors. Many would argue, myself included, that the reason George Lucas sold the company in the first place was because he was sensitive and tired of the backlash he received from fans over the prequels and The Clone Wars movie. But however you feel about Kennedy, for good or bad, she helped shepherd Star Wars into a new era, for a new generation of fans to embrace. If she decides to hang it up after 2021, she will have pulled off an incredible run carrying the Star Wars torch for a decade. We don't know what the future holds for the Star Wars franchise. Always in motion is the future, but there is a future, and we can take joy in that fact.

    Kathleen Kennedy quotes via Rolling Stone

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    #1 SWNN Probe, Nov 19, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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