Sometimes the people who hold power are in those positions of prestige because they just can’t be taken down. Kathleen Kennedy, head of Disney’s Lucasfilm studios, might be the posterchild for such symbolism. As recently as May 17th, we were reporting on signs that she might be done as the overseer of Star Wars, but new evidence late this week is pointing towards her managing to extend the current contract.
Happy birthday to Kathleen Kennedy, co-founding member of Amblin Entertainment and producer on our films such as E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, JURASSIC PARK, A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE and so much more.
— Amblin (@amblin) June 5, 2021
For those who don’t know, Kennedy’s contract with The Walt Disney Company ends in October of this year. Given the continuing downward trend of Star Wars interest and engagement (i.e. lower revenue support) — and the penchant for business over cause or artistry that Bob Chapek is becoming known for as CEO — it had looked like Kennedy might be on the ropes. Even earlier this week when we heard that Chapek enforcers Kareem Daniel and Alan Bergman were involved in the contract talks, we felt that was a strong sign of Kennedy’s impending end. Perhaps that’s still the case… but here’s what we’re learning in opposition.
According to Variety, the new writer for Kevin Feige’s Star Wars movie attempt is planning to collaborate with Kathleen Kennedy. While this isn’t definitive proof that she’s going to stay, and while the young writer could either be ignorant of future changes or able to work with her prior to her exit, this is the first big sign we’ve seen that Kennedy may stick around. After all, it would be quite hard to collaborate on a future project with someone who is heading for the sunset of their career.
“You’ve heard all my references here. Star Wars! Indiana Jones! [Kathleen Kennedy], she’s made so many of my favorite movies. So to get to collaborate with both of those entities is a dream come true.” — Michael Waldron, Loki
The news comes as Kennedy celebrates her 68th birthday and prepares to be on set for the filming of Indiana Jones 5 in the United Kingdom. Again, Kennedy has bewildered our expectations. Back in mid 2020, Indiana Jones was hanging on by a thread — to the point we were reporting that the film was essentially going to be soft cancelled without a miracle. At the time, there was no assurance that the worldwide vaccine rollout would come in time to allow for an aging Harrison Ford to safely film the next movie, nor for actors to travel globally for various locales. But Kennedy and Ford must have Fry’s six-leaf clover in their back pocket, because the rocket-fast rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations has made filming this early possible.
Additionally, we’re hearing that things are cleaning up dramatically around the production of Indiana Jones 5, which is a heck of a turnaround. Behind the scenes, getting the new feature up and running has been a whirlwind of Herculean effort. We talked about it needing a miracle to get this film to the big and small screens — and there have been quite a few miracles that have made this thirteen-year development finally happen with not a second to spare.
Even to this day, it would only take a single injury to Harrison Ford to end everything, so it will be pins and needles with every day of shooting. But to give you an idea of just how chaotically fast they’ve been moving Heaven and Earth to get this film made, they were still signing major actors in the past month as shooting was getting ready to start.
It isn’t often you see major roles being landed three weeks prior to filming.
According to various sources, we’re hearing that Indiana Jones 5 is likely to feature the return of Germany’s ultimate baddies, this time as final holdouts of Hitler’s evil regime in a castle. We’re also hearing the movie will feature adventures in outer space, flashbacks to a younger Indy, and perhaps the waters of the Fountain of Youth. Don’t count on Dr. Jones heading to St. Augustine, Florida, though.
So “happy birthday” to Kathleen Kennedy. It’s hard to say how she’s pulled all this off when everything has looked as if she was down for the count. I believe it was Grace Randolph that was at one point years ago reporting Disney wanted Kennedy gone and couldn’t find someone willing to clean up the mess at Lucasfilm (and that seems to have been true).
Yet here we are, and Indiana Jones 5 might actually be good. And while Star Wars is greatly diminished from what it once was… and Lucasfilm itself has become a partisan studio that strikes fear in the truly creative… she’s still standing. Maybe her contract won’t be renewed, per reporting by the YouTuber OverLord DVD, but as of right now, we’re hearing she might just get a short contract extension.
Either way, Mrs. Kennedy has quite a few unexpected victories for the start of her 68th trip around the sun. Whether that’s good or bad for the future of Lucasfilm is up for you to decide.
So what do you, the reader, think about all of this? Do you feel Kennedy will be brought back for more “fun” with Star Wars, or is she nearing the end of her proverbial rope? Let us know in the comments below.
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