A Hollywood insider explains how Disney mismanaged Star Wars despite the success of the franchise’s streaming series. George Lucas changed pop culture forever in 1977 with the release of Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope and began one of the largest media franchises of all time. Star Wars remained under Lucas’ leadership until 2012, when the visionary filmmaker sold his production company Lucasfilm to the Walt Disney Company. Chosen by Lucas, Indiana Jones producer Kathleen Kennedy now leads the Star Wars franchise as the president of Lucasfilm, beginning a new era of Star Wars.
Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm brought several changes to the Star Wars universe, which received mixed responses from fans of the franchise. Disney’s plan included a Star Wars sequel trilogy that began with Episode VII: The Force Awakens in 2015 and would complete the Skywalker Saga. The franchise also began the A Star Wars Story anthology film series, which consists of the 2016’s Rogue One and the 2018’s Solo, and has released several streaming series on Disney+, such as the critically acclaimed The Mandalorian. While the success seen from The Mandalorian led Disney to pursue a full slate of live-action Star Wars shows that includes the recently released Rogue One prequel Andor and the upcoming Ahsoka, the production of new Star Wars films has all but halted. Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron was just removed from Disney’s release schedule, and Taika Waititi’s untitled film has yet to report any progress. The move away from Star Wars movies has led some to question the franchise’s direction and Kennedy’s leadership.
Now, reporter and Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni explains the main problem Star Wars currently faces. In a recent episode of his podcast The Town, Belloni discusses Lucasfilm’s current direction under Disney and gives a complete breakdown of how he believes Kennedy has mismanaged the franchise, specifically looking at its film releases. Check out Belloni’s explanation below:
Even though Andor, apparently, is good, this new Star Wars series that Tony Gilroy did, so keep that in mind, but I believe the management of the Star Wars franchise has been abysmal since Disney took over Lucasfilm. And mostly on the film side. If you go back now, in retrospect, and look at how they handled this franchise, it’s awful! I mean, the fact that they rushed to get Force Awakens into theaters, first it was supposed to come out in summer of 2015, then they finally acknowledged that, ‘Oh, we’re not gonna make that,’ but they didn’t delay it, they put it only into December of 2015. So they had to rush to finish that one. They had no idea what the next episode would be when they made Force Awakens. That, I am told, was a JJ Abrams decision, basically saying, ‘Let’s just make this one good and then we’ll figure out the rest.’ Then they made, then they let Rian Johnson do his episode, and he made a bunch of changes to the franchise that they didn’t know how to deal with on the third in that trilogy. JJ Abrams basically pulled the Emperor out of his ass, they were like, ‘Oh, the big bad guy is gonna be the Emperor,’ even though he wasn’t in the previous two movies!
So, the management there has been awful, they have basically put a pause on the movies. Kathleen Kennedy has hired director after director to try to figure out what these stories are gonna be. She hasn’t had any plan that’s worth greenlighting. The Rogue Squadron movie that… Patty Jenkins was going to direct, that was just officially taken off the calendar for next December, even though everyone in Hollywood knew that that wasn’t happening, because they couldn’t come up with a storyline they wanted to do. And that’s despite having a big announcement where Patty Jenkins got up at an Investor Day for Disney and talked about how great her Star Wars movie was gonna be, that they didn’t know what was gonna be yet! It was a big PR mistake to do that. So, I just think the focus on streaming over the last—they got very lucky that Favreau made The Mandalorian what it was, and all the other shows have sort of come in that vein, and they’re fine. But Star Wars is no longer special, the movies are dormant, and that’s a big problem. I strongly believe they need a change at Lucasfilm.
Star Wars’ Future Needs Fresh Ideas
As Belloni bluntly states, Kennedy’s main problem is that she has no plan for new Star Wars films. The sequel trilogy, while commercially successful, can be criticized for imitating the original trilogy’s storylines with the Emperor’s return and the dynamic between Rey, Finn, and Poe echoing Luke, Leia, and Han. In light of such criticism, it seems the sequel trilogy owes its success to nostalgia – a tactic that Disney can’t continue much longer. This is contrasted with The Mandalorian‘s immense success. Unlike Disney’s Star Wars films, excluding Rogue One, The Mandalorian completely discarded previous Star Wars storylines revolving around galactic strife and focused more on the solitary journey of Din Djarin as he attempts to balance his creed with his responsibility to the child he finds. This change in direction reinvigorated Star Wars in a way the sequel trilogy couldn’t manage.
It is obvious that Disney wanted to capitalize on The Mandalorian‘s success, because all the franchise’s upcoming releases are Disney+ series following in that direction. Still, focusing on shows over movies wouldn’t be a problem if Star Wars continues to explore new ideas, like Andor‘s slick, mature tone in the spy thriller genre. What is a problem is Lucasfilm not devoting the proper time or resources to create genuinely new stories, instead recycling material that relies on nostalgia. Hopefully, the removal of Rogue Squadron from the release schedule means that Lucasfilm’s management has learned from its mistakes, and that audiences can look forward to fresh ideas in future Star Wars films.
Source: The Town