Star Wars: What Does Bob Iger's Return Mean for Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy?

The news that former Disney CEO Bob Iger is about un-retire and re-take his job from current Disney CEO Bob Chapek has sent waves throughout the entertainment industry, and Lucasfilm has been one of the biggest subjects of interest. The Internet is already running rampant with speculation (often confused as fact) that Bob Iger's return is somehow in part linked to the state of the Star Wars franchise. Fans and analysts have openly wondered if Iger could come back to make big changes at Lucasfilm – starting with removing 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 acquired the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas and installed her run it. 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 noting. 

While Kennedy has clearly become a favorite target of disgruntled fans, it's also debatable whether or not the years of decisions that were made during the "Disney's Star Wars" era ultimately rest on her shoulders. Again, Bob Iger was the CEO of Disney during all of the years that we got the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, as well as standalone films like Rogue One and Solo. To that end: it was also under Kennedy's (and subsequently Iger's) watch that an entire Star Wars TV Universe was launched, giving the franchise a whole new lane to thrive in. 

That's all to say: if history is the measure to judge by, it seems more likely that Bob Iger's return to Disney would solidify Kennedy's position at Lucasfilm more so than if she was still working under Bob Chapek. Kennedy's role in Star Wars has been conspicuously less during the last year or so when Chapek took the reigns. A trio (or more) of rumored Star Wars projects Kennedy had in the works seemed to get stuck in limbo or fall 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 who gets that Star Wars movie assembly line running again. 


...On the other hand, Iger's return is a signal of one thing for sure: Changes are required at Disney. If history has taught anything else, it's that Bob Iger is not a man who is afraid of making big, sweeping changes at Disney. The Mouse House's acquisition of Marvel, Star Wars, and 20th Century Fox are all game-changing moves that Iger quarterbacked, and since taking the CEO position his larger foresight of what Disney needed to become in an ever-changing entertainment market through the 2000s and 2010s has been nothing short of visionary. So really, Kathleen Kennedy's position at Lucasfilm could be at the mercy of whatever vision Bob Iger now has for the studio. 

As stated, Kennedy hasn't had much luck in getting the next era of Star Wars movies up and running since Iger stepped back – but whether that blame will land on Chapek, Kennedy, or both is anyone's guess. Also not known is just how involved Iger was in the plans Kennedy had in motion following the release of the divisive final Sequel Trilogy film The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. If the subsequent three years of non-progress were solely Kennedy's doing, Iger could conceivably return to drop an ax that Chapek didn't, and remove her from her position. But if that would delay or kill the Star Wars movie projects in development is a major concern – starting with the Damon Lindelof Star Wars movie set after TRoS. So again, the betting money leans towards Kathleen Kennedy staying in place – at least until a smoother time of transition is found.