By now it’s probably old news: a certain relatively small but vocal section of Star Wars fans no longer wants one of the most successful producers in movie history running the franchise.
That was the case with George Lucas. It’s now the case with Kathleen Kennedy, who has been running the company since Lucas handed it over to her personally, as his hand-picked successor, in 2012, shortly before Disney acquired the company.
Kennedy is the second-highest grossing producer in film history, having produced movies like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, and having been involved with the Indiana Jones trilogy, all before joining Lucasfilm. Since arriving at the company, she has overseen a number of very successful projects – including The Force Awakens, which is currently the fourth-highest grossing film ever and one of just five films to top $2 billion.
While at Lucasfilm, Kennedy has produced five theatrical films; four of them have grossed over $1 billion. Currently, there are 47 movies to ever gross more than $1 billion at the box office. Among those are The Force Awakens (#4; $2.068B), The Last Jedi (#14; $1.332B), The Rise of Skywalker (#32; $1.074B), and Rogue One (#36; $1.056B). That means that 80% of Kennedy’s films at Lucasfilm have grossed over $1 billion. By comparison, another very successful producer for Disney, Marvel boss Kevin Feige, has seen 39.1% of his MCU films top $1B gross. Now, that’s not in any way to disparage Feige’s accomplishments; he is the highest-grossing producer in film history, and he has five of the top twelve highest-grossing films ever! He’s done incredible work, and obviously has a much larger sample size here. But I hope that puts the 80% number for Kennedy in perspective.
But actually, this article isn’t really about any of that.
No, it’s about the suggestion many Star Wars fans seem to have on who should take Kennedy’s place. This showed up again recently during a call with Disney CEO Bob Chapek, where fans were asking about Kennedy’s status. He rightly put an end to any of it, saying, “We’ve been absolutely thrilled that we can have the creative talent in our company the likes of Kathleen Kennedy. We look forward to having Kathleen directing Lucasfilm activities for years to come.”
It seems it was the suggestion of some of these fans that Dave Filoni should take over for Kennedy as the President of Lucasfilm. It will not come as a surprise to any long-time reader here that I am about as big of a Dave Filoni fan as there is. His work on Star Wars is some of the best there’s ever been (The Clone Wars and Rebels in particular, but then more recently on The Mandalorian), and I continue to maintain that he understands the Star Wars universe and the nature of the Force, the Jedi, etc. better than any current storyteller (and that’s absolutely not a knock on any others).
So I absolutely don’t want him running the company.
I mean, seriously, it makes zero sense. A producer is not the storyteller. Sure, Kennedy, as the President of the company, oversees the stories that are told, but her primary role isn’t storyteller. It’s being a studio executive, overseeing the numerous different people and departments and projects, and working with those departments and studios and Disney to make sure they happen. She has a role to play in the creative process, but she’s not the director, nor the writer, nor the story group. So if Lucasfilm were to put Dave Filoni in that position, he would actually get to do less storytelling, and that would go the opposite direction of what people would want by insisting he should take that position. People need a better understanding of just what a studio president does.
Furthermore, people are absolutely silly in trying to say that Kennedy had a big role in the projects they didn’t like but an almost nonexistent role in the projects they liked. No. That’s not the case. You cannot have it both ways.
So in other words, here’s my point: the reason I don’t want Dave Filoni running Lucasfilm right now is because I want him to be able to tell more Star Wars stories, because I think he’s so great at that. Putting him in charge of the studio would only distract from that and permit him from doing more.
But the other reason I don’t want Filoni running Lucasfilm right now is because Kennedy is doing a great job at it. She’s been doing a great job at producing films for decades, and she has continued that for Lucasfilm. It makes no sense – for a number of reasons – to think that should change now.