It hasn’t exactly been entirely plain sailing for the Star Wars franchise since Kathleen Kennedy was named President of Lucasfilm following Disney’s purchase of the company for over $4 billion back in 2012. The studio may have made their money back and then some after The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi and Solo combined to earn close to $5 billion at the box office, but ever since Star Wars entered the post-George Lucas era, the series has also been plagued by behind-the-scenes issues, as well as coming under heavy criticism from certain sections of the fanbase.
With a franchise like Star Wars, which has been beloved by people from all walks of life for over 40 years and has been enjoyed by multiple generations, there’s virtually no chance that every movie is going to be able to please everybody. Kennedy knows this, too, and addressed the fan opinion on Disney’s handling of the franchise in a recent interview, claiming that the filmmakers themselves are fans and are willing to listen to their audience.
“I frankly love the feedback and the criticism. You develop a little bit of an armor, but you learn from that. It’s kind of like having a continual focus group that’s out there telling you things, whether it’s what you want to hear or you don’t want to hear. We’re just like the fans out there, we’re just trying to find out what’s cool, what’s heartfelt, what’s strong storytelling and so I have to say, within reason, I love the feedback.”
No franchise has a perfect track record, especially one that’s been going as long as Star Wars, but the Disney-era movies haven’t exactly gone off without a hitch. The Force Awakens was generally well-received if perhaps a little too reverential to the Original Trilogy, while The Last Jedi deviated hugely from some of the established mythology and became the most divisive and polarizing entry in the entire series in the process.
The concept of biennial Anthology movies was also quietly abandoned after Solo became the first live-action installment in the saga to bomb at the box office following a troubled production that saw original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller fired with shooting well underway. Rogue One may have been a runaway success, but there were also persistent rumors that director Gareth Edwards was essentially replaced by Tony Gilroy when it came to the extensive reshoots and post-production process.
The Rise of Skywalker looks to bring a definitive end to the current cinematic makeup of the Star Wars franchise, with the saga reportedly taking a break from cinemas for several years as Lucasfilm focuses their efforts on their Disney Plus shows. For what it’s worth, The Mandalorian looks great and the fans are definitely onboard with Ewan McGregor’s return as Obi-Wan Kenobi, so hopefully Kathleen Kennedy and the other higher-ups at Lucasfilm will address the issues that have become increasingly common with recent Star Wars-related projects.