Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has extended her contract to remain in that position for another three years. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012, George Lucas personally handpicked Kennedy as his successor, trusting her to guide the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises into a new era. It would fall upon Kennedy, a highly successful Hollywood producer for decades, to oversee an all-new slate of films as Lucasfilm ramped up production and planned annual releases, beginning with 2015's The Force Awakens.
Kennedy's tenure as Lucasfilm boss has been interesting, to say the least. There's no denying the Star Wars renaissance as a whole has been successful, with the four films to date grossing more than $4 billion at the worldwide box office collectively. At the same time, Star Wars has gone on a roller coaster of late, with The Last Jedi continuing to divide the fan base and Solo becoming the property's first box office bomb. Kennedy came under heavy fire from viewers, some of whom voiced a desire to see her replaced. There may come a day when Kennedy is no longer calling the shots at Lucasfilm, but it won't be for another few years.
THR reports Kennedy's contract has been extended through 2021. This news comes on the heels of Disney CEO Bob Iger stating there would be a "slowdown" in the Star Wars movie release schedule following the premiere of next December's Episode IX. Despite recent events, Disney apparently remains confident Kennedy is the right fit for the job as the galaxy far, far away continues to expand.
As alluded to above, Star Wars has experienced plenty of ups and downs under Kennedy's watch. Lucasfilm's various director woes have been well-documented by this point, with incidents ranging from Josh Trank's quick dismissal from a spinoff film to Phil Lord & Chris Miller's shocking firing from Solo in the middle of production. At the same time, it's hard to argue with the results. The first four Star Wars movies of the Disney era all received widely positive reviews, and the first three out of the gate were the highest-grossing films domestically in their respective years of release. Yes, Solo was a bit of a misstep and forced Lucasfilm to re-evaluate their game plan, but one commercial disappointment is not grounds for dismissal. In all likelihood, Episode IX (the final installment of the classic Skywalker saga) should be another massive box office smash, and then Lucasfilm has an exciting future to look forward to.
Ideally, Kennedy and her team will take the important lessons they've learned to heart when planning the next Star Wars phase, ensuring projects like Rian Johnson's new trilogy, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss' film series, and Jon Favreau's TV show are all as successful as possible. Kennedy has demonstrated time and time again during her illustrious career she knows how to deliver a crowd-pleasing blockbuster, so as long as she plays her cards right, Star Wars will be in good shape. Some circles may be displeased by this development, but it isn't surprising she's sticking around.