Kathleen Kennedy to Become Co-Chair of Lucasfilm

Kathleen Kennedy
Andrew MacPherson

Producer Kathleen Kennedy's "War Horse" is nominated for best picture.

George Lucas will become co-chairman of the Lucasfilm board and continue as CEO.

Kathleen Kennedy is becoming co-chair of Lucasfilm as George Lucas begins to plan for his retirement, stepping away from some responsibilities at the company he founded in 1971 in order to concentrate more on directing and making movies.

Under the transition that Lucasfilm announced Friday, Lucas will become co-chairman of the board of Lucasfilm and continue as CEO. Micheline Chau will remain as president and COO and continue to focus on the day-to-day operations of the business.

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"Lucasfilm is such an amazing company; I am incredibly excited to step in to fill even part of George's shoes," Kennedy told The Hollywood Reporter. She will be stepping down from the Kennedy/Marshall Co., the production company she heads with her husband Frank Marshall.

"I've spend 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," Lucas said. "It was important that my successor not only be someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities but also someone who loves movies. I care deeply about my employees; it is their creativity and hard work that has made this company what it is today. As the company grows and expands, I wanted to be sure the employees of Lucasfilm have a strong captain for the ship."

Lucas and Kennedy, who has produced many of Steven Spielberg's movies, know each other well. They most recently worked together on 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, on which Kennedy served as executive producer.

Spielberg applauded the choice, saying in the Lucasfilm announcement: “George's prescience is once again proven by his choice of my longtime producer partner, Kathy Kennedy, to co-chair Lucasfilm. Kathy has been a member of both our families going into a fourth decade, so it does not feel like she is going to another galaxy far away. She will get just as much support from me with Lucasfilm as George has given both of us all these years."

In addition to its film and television operations, Lucasfilm includes the visual effects division Industrial Light & Magic; the audio postproduction outfit Skywalker Sound; LucasArts, which develops interactive entertainment software; Lucas Licensing; Lucasfilm Animation; Lucas Online; and Lucasfilm Singapore.

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Kennedy, who does not plan to relocate from Los Angeles but who will be spending more time in the San Francisco area where Lucasfilm is headquartered, said it is too early to talk about any new directions in which she might take the company. "George and I have to sit down and talk about the various divisions, what the company is doing," she said. "I'm not going in to invent anything new."

However, given her extensive producing credits -- Kennedy is a former president of the Producers Guild of America -- she said she would like to look at  "the possibility of [Lucasfilm] making more movies." As to whether one of those movies could be a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, all she would say is, "That's always a possibility; it's certainly something we all talk about."

As for her role in the Kennedy/Marshall Co., Kennedy joked: "Frank says he might change the name to Marshall/Kennedy. But Frank will continue to get the films we've been working on made, and then we will look at how to restructure it."

Kennedy/Marshall is in postproduction on Lincoln, which Spielberg is directing for DreamWorks, and The Bourne Legacy, written and directed by Tony Gilroy and set for release by Universal on Aug. 3.