Continuing that transition, Lucasfilm has announced that producer Kathleen Kennedy, who has an impressive seven Oscar nominations to her name, will be coming on board as Co-Chair alongside Lucas, who will stay on as CEO, with Micheline Chau remaining as President and COO.
Kennedy is stepping down from her role as co-head of The Kennedy/Marshall Company, which she’s run with Frank Marshall since the ’90s, producing films including the Bourne trilogy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and a long history of partnering with Steven Spielberg on films including Munich, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse, and his upcoming Lincoln.
Kennedy’s own credits are even more impressive than her and Marshall’s partnership, producing her first film alongside Spielberg with E.T., and has a slew of brilliant credits working with directors as noteworth as Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Robert Zemeckis, Clint Eastwood, and Gary Ross.
Lucas said of the appointment,
“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. I also care deeply about our fans and it was important to have someone who would carry on the passion and care that I’ve given the films over the years. So for me Kathy was the obvious choice, she is a trusted friend and one of the most respected producers and executives in the industry.”
Exactly what directions Lucasfilm will now be heading in isn’t yet known, but Kennedy sounds like she has the history to prove herself capable of steering the company to future successes.
The studio’s last film, Red Tails, was released in the US earlier this year and is due out in the UK this Wednesday, 6th June, with an impressive cast leading the fray in Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Bryan Cranston, and Ne-Yo.
The anticipated fifth film in the Indiana Jones franchise continues to be a possibility, but as ever, little is known for certain about anything it might involve, and whether Lucas will remain on board as he intends to move away from the larger blockbusters remains to be seen.
What is know is that Lucas’ plans to focus on smaller-budgeted projects likely won’t affect the studio’s bigger-budgeted films from going into production, with Kennedy now boarding as co-chair alongside the multi-hyphenate.
It wouldn’t be too large a surprise to suppose that Kennedy might want to make a mark as co-chair of the company early on, so perhaps we can look forward to news from the studio about future projects in the coming weeks and months. More as we get it. For now, the official press release, via Deadline.
SAN FRANCISCO-Lucasfilm Ltd. today announced that Kathleen Kennedy will become Co-Chair of Lucasfilm. In an effort to move forward with his retirement plans, George Lucas will work with Kathleen Kennedy to transition into her new role. Lucas will become Co-Chairman of the Board of Lucasfilm and continue as CEO. Micheline Chau will remain as President and COO of Lucasfilm, and continue to focus on the day-to-day operations of the business.
“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,” said George Lucas. “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. I also care deeply about our fans and it was important to have someone who would carry on the passion and care that I’ve given the films over the years. So for me Kathy was the obvious choice, she is a trusted friend and one of the most respected producers and executives in the industry.”
Director Steven Spielberg said, “George’s prescience is once again proven by his choice of my long time producing partner, Kathy Kennedy to co-chair Lucasfilm. 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.”
“George is a true visionary,” said Kathleen Kennedy. “I’ve seen him build Lucasfilm from a small rebel unit in Northern California to an international fully integrated entertainment company. I’m excited to have the chance to work with such an extraordinary group of talented people. George and I have talked about the enormous opportunities that lie ahead for the company, and as George moves towards retirement I am honored that he trusts me with taking care of the beloved film franchises. I feel fortunate to have George working with me for the next year or two as I take on this role—it is nice to have Yoda by your side.”
Seven-time Academy Award nominated Kathleen Kennedy is one of the most successful and esteemed producers and executives in the film industry. As a producer she has an impeccable record with a robust filmography working with such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, Robert Zemeckis, Barry Levinson, Clint Eastwood, David Fincher and Gary Ross. As a testament to her standing in the film community, she previously held the position of governor and officer of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and currently serves as a member of the board of trustees. She is also a former President of the Producers Guild of America.
Kathleen will step down from her role at The Kennedy/Marshall Company, shifting her responsibilities to partner Frank Marshall. The Kennedy/Marshall Company is currently in post production on LINCOLN, directed by long time collaborator Steven Spielberg whom Kennedy also produced for on the INDIANA JONES and JURASSIC PARK franchises, and THE BOURNE LEGACY, written and directed by Tony Gilroy and produced by Marshall. Under the Kennedy/Marshall banner, the pair has produced such Academy Award nominated Best Picture films as WAR HORSE (six nominations), THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (thirteen nominations) THE SIXTH SENSE, (six nominations) and SEABISCUIT (seven nominations), as well as blockbusters including the BOURNE series and THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. Marshall will oversee the company’s current slate of projects and continue to expand it via their development deals with DreamWorks and CBS TV Studios.