The news that former Disney CEO Bob Iger is about to retire and take over his job from current Disney CEO Bob Chapek has rocked the entire entertainment industry, and Lucasfilm has been one of the biggest topics of interest. The internet is already teeming with speculation (often confused as fact) that Bob Iger’s return is somehow partially related to the state of the Star Wars franchise. Fans and analysts have openly wondered if Iger could come back and make big changes at Lucasfilm – starting with the removal of current studio head Kathleen Kennedy.
But how likely is it that Bob Iger will replace Kathleen Kennedy as head of Lucasfilm? Maybe not as guaranteed as social media would like…
For a quick history lesson, Kathleen Kennedy has been president of Lucasfilm since 2012, when Disney took over George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise and let it run. Meanwhile, Bob Iger became president of Disney in 2000 and CEO in 2005, meaning he was the one in charge of the decision to appoint Kathleen Kennedy as head of Lucasfilm. Probably worth mentioning.
While Kennedy has clearly become a favorite target of disgruntled fans, it’s also questionable whether the years of decisions made during the “Disney’s Star Wars” era ultimately rest on her shoulders. Again, Bob Iger was Disney’s CEO for all the years we got the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, as well as standalone movies like Rogue One and Solo. To that end: It was also under Kennedy’s (and subsequently Iger’s) oversight that an entire Star Wars TV universe was launched, giving the franchise a whole new job to thrive in.
That is, if history is the yardstick to judge by, it seems more likely that Bob Iger’s return to Disney would solidify Kennedy’s position at Lucasfilm more than if she were still working under Bob Chapek. Kennedy’s role in Star Wars was noticeably less in the past year when Chapek took over as president. A trio (or more) of rumored Star Wars projects Kennedy had in the works seemed to be left in limbo or falling apart — including Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron; a new film from controversial The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, and projects from Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and Thor director Taika Waititi. Iger could very well be the one to get that conveyor belt for Star Wars movies running again.
… On the other hand, Iger’s return is a signal that one thing is certain: changes are needed at Disney. If history has taught anything else, it’s that Bob Iger isn’t a man who’s afraid to make big, sweeping changes at Disney. The Mouse House’s acquisition of Marvel, Star Wars, and 20th Century Fox are all groundbreaking moves that Iger supported as a quarterback, and since taking on the position of CEO, he’s had greater foresight for what Disney was to become in an increasingly changing entertainment market in the 2000s and 2010s were nothing short of visionary. So really, Kathleen Kennedy’s position at Lucasfilm could be at the mercy of the vision Bob Iger now has for the studio.
As mentioned, Kennedy hasn’t had much luck getting the next era of Star Wars movies off the ground since Iger stepped back — but whether that blame falls on Chapek, Kennedy, or both is anyone’s guess. It’s also unknown how involved Iger was in the plans put in motion by Kennedy following the release of the divisive final Sequel Trilogy film The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. Return to drop an ax that Chapek didn’t , and remove her from her position. But whether that would slow down or kill the Star Wars movie projects in development is a big concern – starting with the Damon Lindelof Star Wars movie set after TRoS. So again, the gambling money is leaning towards Kathleen Kennedy staying in place – at least until a smoother transition time is found.
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