After 41 years at the head of the company he founded, filmmaker George Lucas is retiring from LucasFilm, and producer Kathleen Kennedy has been named as his successor. Lucas will still serve as chief executive and will be a co-chairman alongside his successor for one year.
Lucas commented, “I’ve spent my life building Lucasfilm, and as I shift my focus into other directions I wanted to make sure it was in the hands of someone equipped to carry my vision into the future. It was important that my successor not only be someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies.”
Lucas has spoken before about his desire to be able to make more personal films, and it seems stepping back from Lucasfilm is a way to do that.
58-year-old Kathleen Kennedy has long been one of the most important producers in Hollywood, with her most important relationship having been with Steven Spielberg (as well as her husband and fellow producer Frank Marshall), who’s she’s worked with on blockbusters such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Goonies, Back to The Future, Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and War Horse, to name just a few.
Here’s what Steven Spielberg had to say about the announcement, “Kathy has been a member of both of our families going into a fourth decade so it does not feel like she is going to another galaxy far, far away. She will get just as much support from me with Lucasfilm as George has given both of us all these years.”
Kennedy will oversee LucasFilm, the special effects house Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound, the video game arm LucasArts, and an animation unit which produces the TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
While Lucasfilm doesn’t currently have any live-action feature films in production, Kathleen Kennedy will continue to oversee the 3D conversion of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones all the way through Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. There is also an untitled animated movie in the works, of which no details have been revealed. And Star Wars Detours, the live action television series based on the popular franchise, is still moving forward.
Here’s what Kathleen Kennedy had to say about taking over for the legendary filmmaker, “I thought it was an incredible opportunity for George to ask me to step into what has become such an incredible legacy that he has created over the years. George and I have not had time to sit down and focus on the specifics. I’m certainly fortunate that he’s not going anywhere.”