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Kathleen Kennedy Joins Lucasfilm as Co-Chair, In Line to Take Over When Lucas Moves On

Photo of Anne Thompson 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.
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George Lucas
George Lucas

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.

Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy

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.

This article is related to: George Lucas


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.