LucasFilm has announced that Kathleen Kennedy has been appointed co-chair of the studio.
George Lucas has been talking retirement for a while. He founded the film company over four decades ago, and has ever since remained the sole top man. There is a board of directors, but as the CEO and board chair, Lucas retained control over creative direction. Nothing happens without Lucas’ approval.
That’s about to change when Lucas finally steps down, but he wants to ensure his company retains the flexibility that comes from having a single creative genius in charge of the whole thing – rather than allowing the board to run the place, as is the case in every other major film studio.
Kathleen Kennedy, who has worked with Lucas on numerous productions over the years – usually in the position of producer to his director or exec producer, will be taking on the role of co-chair of LusasFilm , Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound, and LucasArts.
The plan is to keep Kennedy in that role for a year, while Lucas shows her the ropes, at which point, Lucas will step down completely, and allow Kennedy to take the reins of the company.
“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,” Lucas said in a statement. “It was important that my successor not only be someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies.”
For her part, Kennedy is giving up her share in Kennedy/Marshall Productions, a production company she owns along with her husband, Frank Marshall. Marshall will be taking full control of the company, though Kennedy will retain her partial ownership.
“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.” Keneddy said in one interview. “George and I have talked about the opportunities that lie ahead for the company, and as George moves toward retirement I am honored that he trusts me with taking care of the beloved film franchises. I feel fortunate to have George working by my side for the next year or two as I take on this role — it is nice to have Yoda by your side.”
Long-time collaborator with both Lucas and Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, also give his blessing to the shift, “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,” he said in a statement. “She will get just as much support from me with Lucasfilm as George has given both of us all these years.”
Kennedy is expected to get just as personally involved in all of the company’s projects as Lucas himself always has been. Currently those projects include a conversion of the two Star Wars trilogies for 3D cinema, which is currently working on Episode II; a new video game called Star Wars 1313, which focuses on Coruscant bounty hunters; the popular long-running animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars; The television show, currently still in development, Star Wars: Detours (formerly Star Wars: Underground), and an untitled animated feature, for which we have no details.
Lucas has recieved a lot of flack from fans of his properties over tha last decade or so, with many claiming that he’s lost his creative touch, and that he’s ‘ruining’ favorite franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. It will be very interesting, if nothing else to see where the company’s projects go with a completely different, though similarly brilliant, driver at the wheel.