“A word I use over and over again is tenacity. I think it’s important to remember that it’s never going to be easy the first time out, so you just have to keep going at it again and again, especially if you firmly believe in what you do.” -- Kathleen Kennedy, President, Lucasfilm
It's incredible what a difference a few years can make. Upon the birth of our first daughter back in 2009, my wife and I were almost instantly inundated with information and opinions on the "Princess Complex" - what many felt was negative influence from the Disney Princesses and the like. The Walt Disney Company was completely aware, and in recent years there's been a real effort to reinvent the Disney Princess brand to be something meaningful and empowering, and since the 2016 launch of Dream Big, Princess, kids everywhere have been presented with new ideas on just what a "Princess" could be. Now, ahead of the United Nations International Day of the Girl (October 11), Disney has launched a new global video series offering advice and inspiration on achieving success for the next generation of young leaders around the globe. The #DreamBigPrincess video series, produced and directed by young women from the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up initiative, shares the stories of 20 trailblazing women across technology, entertainment, medicine, law, sports, arts, science, fashion and politics to show the next generation what’s possible if you dream big.
“The BFG is something that I had spent years off and on developing. Many, many, years. And I must say many, many conversations with Steven (Spielberg) who I kept saying, ‘This is really right for you.’," recalled Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy when I spent some time with her at the global press event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS last December. We were just a day or two out from the first teaser for Disney's The BFG, and Kennedy, whose collaboration with Spielberg dates back over three decades, was taking a momentary break from a galaxy far, far away to share some insight on a project that she'd invested much time in, and one that finally clicked at what could've been an inopportune time. "Within I would say a month after I decided to take over Lucasfilm he called me up and he goes, ‘You know, I read the script again and I really wanna make the movie.’ And I was, like, ready to go through the phone and strangle him!," she said with a smile and a chuckle, noting that the delays in making the The BFG actually served it well in that "the technology has caught up with making the film," allowing Spielberg to make something "quite spectacular." So why The BFG and why now? According to the director himself, "fate."
This news JUST hit my inbox here at Rock Father HQ: Indiana Jones will return to the big screen on July 19, 2019, for a fifth epic adventure in the blockbuster series. Steven Spielberg, who directed all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.
Earlier this month, deep within the heart of a top secret location somewhere in Los Angeles, I capped off a day of interviews with nearly the entire principal cast of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (review here) by meeting with J.J. Abrams - the Director, Producer and Co-Writer (with Lawrence Kasdan) of our return trip to "a galaxy far, far away." Today a journey that began in 2012 with the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, is both complete, and just beginning. The release of THE FORCE AWAKENS completes the delivery of the first-ever Disney-produced STAR WARS film, but what begins is a new era in which audiences will be treated to a new STAR WARS film each year for the foreseeable future - with a new Trilogy accented by standalone "STAR WARS Stories" on the off-years in-between. After noting that the selection of toys (a mix of vintage Kenner, and new Hasbro) I brought to the junket as table props were "Nicely done!," we delved into some tales of how an 11-year-old STAR WARS fan became the 49-year-old filmmaker that's setting up STAR WARS before passing the torch lightsaber to other filmmakers to continue the saga in the years to come.
"I was actually in film school when I saw STAR WARS for the first time," recalls Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy about her first glimpse into a galaxy far, far away. "So as you can imagine, it was just jaw-dropping, mind-blowing. Everybody in film school was talking about it. You realize that there was so much possible beyond anything you could imagine once we all saw that movie." Nearly four decades later, Kennedy's career has proven just that - that so much is possible. After working closely with Steven Spielberg and moving up the ranks in the 1980s, she became one of the most prolific producers in the film world, a driving force behind Amblin Entertainment, and later co-founding The Kennedy/Marshall Company with husband Frank Marshall. Kennedy's resume reads like a "Greatest Hits" of the movies that impacted my youth - titles like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Gremlins, The Goonies, Back to the Future, The Money Pit and dozens more. In 2012, Kennedy would be hand-picked by George Lucas to become his successor at the helm of Lucasfilm, to lead a rebirth of STAR WARS under the new ownership of The Walt Disney Company. At the Global Press Event for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, I sat down with Kennedy for some insight into road that's led to here... The Legacy of The Force, if you will.
This week, Daisy Ridley is about to take her first step into a larger world. Some might say that she already did that when she first stepped onto the set of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS last year (working with Chewbacca on her first day, no less), but the real challenge for the young actress will no doubt begin when the long-awaited STAR WARS sequel arrives in theaters this Friday. Sitting down with Ridley at the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Global Press Event in Los Angeles last week, it was hard not to be enamored by the youthful enthusiasm, charm and beauty of a performer that's on the cusp of being a household name. As Rey in J.J. Abrams' SW relaunch, Ridley finds herself at the center of one of the most stealthy marketing campaigns in modern cinema - despite her face, and the words "STAR WARS" being everywhere, there isn't much that's been officially revealed about her character or plot until now.... or has it? With the World Premiere of THE FORCE AWAKENS taking place tonight in Los Angeles, the first audience will get to see exactly what Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy meant when she said, "I'm gonna tell you that your daughters are gonna be so excited. This character of Rey is, I think, one of the most wonderful heroines to come along in movie history. So I think they're gonna be very happy. They're gonna have their own Luke Skywalker now." Is The Force strong with this one?