It’s finally upon us: Star Wars Celebration begins later today in Chicago. Outside of perhaps the Hollywood premier of one of the franchise’s films, Celebration is the ultimate Star Wars event. This year’s affair is shaping up to be the biggest ever. For the first time ever we’ll learn about a live-action Star Wars series with The Mandalorian. The main event, however, will be Friday’s Star Wars: Episode IX panel. You’d think those involved would want to keep any franchise controversies to a minimum leading up to it. Not so with JJ Abrams.

JJ Abrams
JJ Abrams on the set of ‘The Force Awakens’. (Image: Lucasfilm)

JJ Abrams spoke very candidly in a recent interview with Fast Company, something generally out of character for the director. Usually he has little to say about his productions, especially when it comes to Star Wars. As we reported to you yesterday, Abrams was unexpectedly forthcoming by divulging information about his work on Episode IX. He outright admitted that producing Star Wars: Episode IX was more difficult because of Rian Johnson. What he said about the process in general, however, revealed much more.

JJ Abrams Suggests a Lack of Direction at Lucasfilm

Star Wars Franchise; JJ Abrams

Let’s set aside the obvious issues with following Rian Johnson and The Last Jedi. (After all, JJ Abrams already had a plan in place for the sequel trilogy before Johnson went off in a different direction.) Abrams took it a step further and acknowledged problems with Lucasfilm’s management of the franchise:

While there are some threads of larger ideas and some big picture things that had been conceived decades ago and a lot of ideas that Lawrence Kasdan and I had when we were doing The Force Awakens, the lack of absolute inevitability, the lack of a complete structure for this thing, given the way it was being run was an enormous challenge.”

Has Kathleen Kennedy Mishandled Star Wars?

JJ Abrams
Kennedy and Abrams on the Set of ‘The Force Awakens’. (Image: David James/Lucasfilm ltd.)

JJ Abrams saying that Lucasfilm’s handling of the sequel trilogy lacked complete structure, and that completing the Skywalker saga was an “enormous challenge” because of “the way it was being run” is not exactly a ringing endorsement for Kathleen Kennedy’s management of the Star Wars franchise. To the contrary, it essentially admits that there was a lack of focus on the big picture, i.e. a 40-year old, trillion dollar film franchise.

I am confident in JJ Abrams and his abilities. Likewise, I have no doubt that Episode IX may very well be the biggest, most epic Star Wars film ever. What I’m no longer confident in is the future of the franchise. What does it say if the normally tight-lipped, nice guy JJ Abrams is offering criticism on the eve of the franchise’s biggest event? Perhaps that door for Dave Filoni to take over as head of Lucasfilm just swung open a little further.