This week we've been reading and hearing about rumors that Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm, might move away from her position as a result of Solo: A Star Wars Story's box office failure. These rumors are hitting social media during the same week when we saw reports of online bigotry, discrimination and other extremist behaviors from a small segment of the fan-base. This particular group of Stars Wars fans seem to enjoy harassing actors and artists and it has been reported that it led to actress Kelly Marie Tran having to delete her accounts and get off social media all together. This same group has turned their misplaced anger towards Kennedy in the past unjustifiably and this seems to be more of the same.
A very fair point to make is that Hollywood's history is full of studio executives, producers, directors and talent who have all been replaced or have had their work reshot by someone else, something that has been a consistent theme in the last few Star Wars productions. But that’s not the whole story and generally in film, as in life, we tend to focus on the erroneous things and lose sight of the more important ones when judging the success or failure of a movie.
As President of Lucasfilm, Kennedy is in the unique position of receiving no accolades when things go right and all the blame when things go wrong. You could make an argument that only half of the new Star Wars films have been successful to date under her guise, but in my opinion that would be misleading. If you employ the same logic and find that she is to blame for Solo’s perceived failures, then she should in turn be given equal amounts of due for the previous successes, which have been huge.
I’ve heard legitimate arguments from fair minded folks that have made calls for her dismissal; however this recent backlash seems to be more of a case of intolerance than a fair argument or critique of her job performance. It’s not hard to see the obvious sexism involved when one of the most successful executives in the history of Hollywood is being summarily dismissed as bungling or incompetent. This idea that she is somehow unqualified for her job and doesn’t understand the genre is ridiculous and one look at her IMDB page should dismiss that notion.
And I’m not saying no executive should ever be removed for any reason ever; just make sure you’re doing it for sound and intelligent reasons. Succumbing to a loud minority of ravenous, mostly white males, isn’t and should never be a good reason to make a business decision of this magnitude. Any decision like this should be based on the conduct of the executive and facts. Again, there are good intentions with reasonable arguments for a change at the top, I just don’t necessarily agree with them or have yet to see any.
Plus, we’ve all heard the facts; to date the four Star Wars films under her very mindful eye have earned over $4 billion at the worldwide box office, critical success and each film earning an “A” grade from the audience. You can bravely second guess her from your basement as much as you want but the fact is she’s spearheaded a remarkable revival of this once thought dead film franchise all while building up the ancillary products to new heights. And it’s plain to see that the failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story is relegated to financial only as a very large majority of the moving going public that actually saw the film, enjoyed it. So should Kennedy be blamed for the fact that most people only see four movies per year let alone per month?
And as we’ve discussed in other articles on this site, I question whether financial success was even an actual goal for Kennedy and Lucasfilm. Sure it would have been a welcome bonus, but an unexpected one in my opinion. Once the director switch occurred and re-shoots were underway, a strong box-office return was replaced by a desire to deliver a fan pleasing film that left them with plenty of options going forward. By those accounts, Solo: A Star Wars Story was a success.
And let’s not forget that come December of next year, Episode IX hits the market and is a lock to finish well above $1 billion at the box office and will likely be praised by critics and fans alike. So that means she will have given us five Star Wars films in a five year period with over $6 billion in total earnings (not including ancillaries) all of which will have been warmly received by critics and fans. Any company would kill to have those kinds of numbers and would be foolish to let the person responsible for that success walk away.
Solo didn’t fail financially because Kennedy refused to cater to the delicate sensibilities of the loudest voices in the room and I would implore Lucasfilm to not rejig future Star Wars movies in an attempt to win over that deplorable minority. If the goal of these obnoxious few is to minimize and marginalize the normally under-represented then maybe Star Wars isn’t for them and maybe Kathleen Kennedy shouldn’t even try to speak on their behalf. Ironically, they are playing the real life villains who normally find themselves at the wrong end of a reactor shaft toss on a soon to be destroyed Death Star.
Having said all that if the rumors turn out to be true and Kathleen Kennedy does intend to move on, Lucasfilm would have the near impossible and unenviable task of finding someone as qualified and experienced to replace her. And Kennedy shouldn’t and won’t be given a lifetime free pass but for now just remember, George Lucas trusted her, Steven Spielberg trusted her and Disney trusted her, we should as well. For now.
Till next time…MTFBWY.
*The views and opinions expressed on theforce.net are soley those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of theforce.net staff and/or any/all contributors to this site.
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