By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 1, 2012 at 2:33PM
George Lucas has been running his Bay area Lucasfilm empire, which includes not only his production company but VFX house Industrial Light and Magic, post-production facility Skywalker Sound, LucasArts Games and all the various publishing and television/video spin-offs that the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" franchises have spawned, for some 30 years. In other words it's a huge enterprise to manage, and finally, Lucas has come up with an exit strategy.
To that end, he's brought on long-time Steven Spielberg producer Kathleen Kennedy as Lucasfilm co-chair. Lucas remains as co-chair and CEO, with Micheline Chau as president and chief operating officer.
Kennedy is partnered with her husband Frank in Kennedy/Marshall Productions, which has produced "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Persepolis," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Seabiscuit," "Twister," "Arachnophobia," "Congo" and many other films over the decades. Kennedy also produced Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" and "Indiana Jones" series, "The Adventures of Tintin," "War Horse" and "Schindler's List," among many other titles, as well as Spielberg's upcoming "Lincoln." She'll leave that company in Marshall's hands.
Lucas said in a statement: "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."
Since the beginning, Lucas has always said he was an independent who wanted to make small films--while staying intently focused on the bottom line. He is now shepherding the "Star Wars" films' transformation into 3-D for yet another generation, starting with "Episode 1--The Phantom Menace."
Now is not a great time to be a movie producer, even for Kennedy Marshal, which is at the top of the Hollywood food chain. Even DreamWorks, where Kennedy has often functioned as Spielberg's producer, is trimming its sails. This is a case of Marshall finding her own exit strategy, as well.