After the box office disappointment of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ the studio plans to expand the universe with new characters introduced in movies and television shows.
Kathleen Kennedy has reignited her lightsaber. The lead producer and architect of the Star Wars franchise has renewed her contract to remain president of Lucasfilm for another three years, through 2021, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The move is a vote of confidence in Kennedy, who took command of Lucasfilm after Disney’s $4 billion acquisition from George Lucas in 2012 and has overseen the relaunch of Star Wars, one of the most revered movie properties in cinematic history. Disney’s four new Star Wars films have grossed almost $4.5 billion at the worldwide box office. Ancillary and merchandising have brought billions more into the studio’s coffers.
But it hasn’t always been easy money. Kennedy has had to replace directors on two movies that were either in production or post-. Chris Lord and Phil Miller were fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story on June 20, 2017, less than a year before the film’s release. Kennedy also effectively replaced Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards with helmer Tony Gilroy, though Edwards kept his directing credit. Last year, Colin Trevorrow, who was to have directed Star Wars: Episode IX, was fired and replaced with the series’ Episode VII helmer, J.J. Abrams, a week later.
Kennedy’s position is one of the most visible, and her actions the most highly scrutinized, in Hollywood due to the immense popularity of Lucasfilm’s franchises, which also include Indiana Jones. So it’s notable that her renewal follows this summer’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, the first big-screen box office disappointment for the franchise, grossing “only” $392 million worldwide and leading analysts to estimate a loss for the film at $50 million to $80 million or more. (In contrast, 2017’s The Last Jedi and 2016’s Rogue One grossed $1 billion globally, and 2015’s The Force Awakens topped $2 billion in receipts.)
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