Star Wars 9 isn’t just the ending of one of the greatest film sagas in cinema history. It was also supposed to launch an entire new franchise for years to come, but suddenly everything looks a lot less certain.
A vocal and very passionate segment of the fandom has opposed itself to all new Star Wars projects in protest at Rian Johnson and Kennedy’s The Last Jedi and is taking credit for the recent box office disaster of Solo A Star Wars Story.
Facing such unexpected disruption, is Bob Iger looking to make serious and sudden changes at Lucasfilm? Grace Randolph at Beyond the Trailer said: “The word is that he wants Kathleen Kennedy out.”
But has the Lucasfilm boss seriously stepped away from the biggest project of her career?
JJ Abrams is poised to start production on Episode 9 for a Christmas 2019 release and pressure is mounting to move the franchise into the modern age and also bring back the alienated original fans.
Randolph added: “Kathleen Kennedy has decided to let this all fall on JJ Abrams and stepped back, giving him complete creative control.”
If so, and whether it was the Lucasfilm head’s wish or not, it exposes two major problems with the future of Stars Wars.
Firstly, not everyone was convinced by Abrams’ handling of the rather derivative Force Awakens. It was a crowd and fan pleaser but a clear revisiting of A New Hope.
Can he really bring a bold, creative and convincing conclusion to the entire saga?
Randolph said: “I think if you are going to aggressively captain a ship, you have to captain it to the bitter end, and what if JJ Abrams doesn’t fix it?”
Even more worrying is the growing belief by many that the Star Wars fims are no longer being made by people who love the original movies.
Randolph said: “I think Disney is mistaken to be OK with Kathleen Kennedy giving JJ Abrams complete creative control because it shows they still don’t have any real fans of Star Wars in the decision making process.
“It is now widely accepted that The Force Awakens is just a blatant copy of A New Hope and will live in infamy for letting an actor decide the fate of a major character. They listened to Harrison (Ford) but not to (Mark) Hamill.”
Kennedy and her team are increasingly seen by their opponents as business-driven, with little understanding or respect for the passionate fanbase who built and sustained the franchise and its lucrative merchadise over decades.
Even so, it is really feasible that a major studio head would step away completely from what is shaping up to be the defining movie for the entire franchise’s past and future?
Either the reports of Kennedy’s removal are pure wishful thinking by her enemies, or they herald some major changes at the top which have not yet been made public.
All eyes from both side of the fence will be fixed firmly on Episode 9 for the next 19 months.
Have they really “killed the past” at the expense of the future or will Disney and Lucasfilm work one last Star Wars miracle?
STAR WARS 9 IS OUT IN DECEMBER 2019