Friday, September 21, 2018

Disney Finally Confirms Star Wars "Slowdown"

Back in June after the commercial failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the rumor started that Disney was putting the spin-off films on hold and re-evaluating its yearly Star Wars release schedule. For some inexplicable reason, the company tried to spin the rumors using Episode IX as cover. Any case, Disney CEO Bob Iger finally more or less admitted the hold to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn’t mean we’re not gonna make films. J.J. [Abrams] is busy making [Episode] IX. We have creative entities, including [Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven’t been specific about. And we are just at the point where we’re gonna start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.’s. But I think we’re gonna be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that.”
The end result is the rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett films are officially dead and probably Star Wars will move to an every other year schedule. Now personally I think its an over reaction on Disney's fault. One strike and your out for such a huge franchise is short-sighted and reeks of executive cowardice. They took a risk moving the film to an early Summer release schedule which was already thick with competition including their own Avengers: Infinity War film. They also "should" have known that not all the "Star Wars Story" films would be mega hits and been ok with anything at break even or above along as long as it didn't become a habit. Especially when considering the usually reliable Chinese box office has minimal interest in Star Wars. At the very least, another at bat was more then earned by Star Wars and an Episode number doesn't count towards that.

The yearly release IS sustainable, as long as its in the Christmas holiday release period. If anything I would argue that what Lucasfilm needs is its own equivalent of Marvel's Kevin Feige. Someone who is a huge fan of the source material, knows the source material inside and out, enjoys learning more about the source material and can collaborate with others to design a strong story and business reason for each movie while being flexible enough to let the stars and directors do what they need to do to tell a story.

The story of Kennedy is the definition of very very safe bets who takes as few chances as she can. She also has always come across as a CEO whose a fan of the business but not of the product it produces. Creative bets requires a mix of creativity AND business acumen. She has the business skill but never really demonstrated the other. I think people forget her entire career was working with various directors at the height of their power so her role wasn't to mold, say no to them, guide them, etc. but simply to take the necessary business steps and clear the necessary obstacles so they could execute their visions. They were the creatives, she was the business. With the promotion to Lucasfilm her role really for the first time became both and so she fell back on what she knew - safe bets every time. Shoot the few times she didn't take the safe bet on directors, she ended up firing them and going back to the safe bets whose depth of experience allowed her to return to the role she was most comfortable in - the business side. In my opinion, it would be in the best interest to replace Kathleen Kennedy, let her keep the business role she excels in and find someone else to handle the more creative side of the Star Wars universe that she doesn't seem to get or have an interest in.