Kennedy has been the lead figure for the cinematic reinvigoration of the Jedi universe under the corporate banner of The Walt Disney Co, and she would be the first to admit it has been a bumpy endeavor at times. Frequent backlash from dissatisfied fans, mixed reviews from critics and a few apparent retreats on strategic initiatives all have made Kennedy acutely aware of the different rules and expectations that apply to any chronicler of the Skywalker family exploits.
Disney has released four new Star Wars films with global box office revenues now approaching $4.5 billion. Big business, to be sure, but the most recent of those releases, Solo: A Star Wars Story, fell short of the legendary franchise’s usual expectations. Solo was a frustrating production (prompting her firing of director tandem Chris Lord and Phil Miller with less than a year before the film’s scheduled release date) and considered a fizzle once it reached the box office (with industry analysts indexing that disappointment as a loss for the film somewhere north of $50 million).
Lucasfilm in the seasons ahead will make a renewed push to expand the Star Wars universe through television with a new live-action series (guided to the screen by The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau) as well as a new animated series, Star Wars Resistance, which premieres this month on Disney Channel. There’s also plans to add yet another archeological adventure to the screen odyssey of Indiana Jones, the whip-wielding hero portrayed by Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1980) and three sequels. That film is slotted for the summer of 2021.
Kennedy took the reins at Lucasfilm in October 2012 after the company was acquired by Disney in a transaction valued at $4 billion. In May of that year, Kennedy had became co-chair of Lucasfilm Ltd alongside the company’s famed founder and namesake, George Lucas. When the Disney deal closed just before Halloween, Kennedy ascended to the top spot while Lucas entered a semi-retirement phase of his illustrious career.
Kennedy came aboard the Lucasfilm corporate ship after a distinguished producing career (with more than 80 films bearing her name in the credits as producer or an executive producer) that dates back to 1981, when she co-founded Amblin Entertainment with her former boss, director Steven Spielberg, and her husband, Frank Marshall. Kennedy’s esteemed producing credits include E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Munich, Lincoln, War Horse, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Signs and Tintin.