When discussing the subject of Star Wars, there’s one name that pops up quite a bit no matter the tone of said conversation: Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. And there’s been a lot of discussion within the fandom lately given that December will bring the final installment of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.
One wouldn’t blame Kennedy if she felt that the sometimes vitriolic internet comments she’s received in the wake of both Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story were a bit of a pain. But as she revealed in a recent interview with Yahoo! at D23 Expo, those fan criticisms are actually something she enjoys hearing. Said the executive,
I frankly love the feedback and, frankly, the criticism. You develop a little bit of an armor, but you learn from that. It's kind of like having a continual focus group that's out there telling you things, whether it's what you want to hear or you don't want to hear.
The approach that Kathleen Kennedy has taken to addressing and taking in fan criticism is refreshing. Rather than block it out, or worse, engage it in such a manner that it would spur even more fan reaction, Kennedy seems to see the remarks of the crowd online as a free source of market research. This very well could explain some of the recent changes made to the Star Wars franchise.
The underwhelming response to Solo: A Star Wars Story may have also helped Kennedy keep the fans’ complaints in full view, which could have also lead to her influencing Disney CEO Bob Iger to agree with the Star Wars slowdown - which is to say that going forward we won't be getting a new film annually. Instead, we'll be getting a bit of a break from the franchise for a while after the release of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, and the next installment won't be heading to theaters until 2022. Given that the idea of slowing the production of releases was something discussed by a lot of fans, it's possible that their voices wound up having an impact on the direction of the franchise.
Every fandom has its ups and downs when it comes to the content of any property. However, Star Wars has the distinct advantage of having someone like Kathleen Kennedy at the helm and bringing her extensive experience in Hollywood to the table. And by having an ear to the ground she is keeping in tune with the demands of the audience she wants to see continuing to return to their local multiplex. It only suggests that the gears of that galaxy far far away will keep turning smoothly throughout her tenure with the studio.