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industry news

Kathleen Kennedy named as co-chairman of Lucasfilm

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Sunday, June 3, 2012

In a surprise announcement, Star Wars creator George Lucas has appointed his "successor" to his empire, and it's veteran Hollywood movie producer Kathleen Kennedy. Lucas has agreed to share chairmanship with Kennedy of Lucasfilm, becoming in essence as important to charting the future direction of the company as Lucas himself.

"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," George Lucas said in a company 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. 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."

Kennedy is indeed one of the premiere movie producers working in the business today. Her first producing credit was on a little sci-fi film released in 1982 called E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, directed by a guy named Steven Spielberg. Throughout the following four decades, Kennedy was a producer on dozens of very successful and high profile mainstream films including Gremlins, The Goonies, Hook, Jurassic Park, Twister, The Sixth Sense, Signs, Seabiscuit, Spielberg's War of the Worlds, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Tintin and a lot more.

Kennedy is married to Frank Marshall, equally as well-known as a Hollywood producer and a longtime friend/business associate of Spielberg's. In order for Kennedy to fulfill her role as the new co-chairman of Lucasfilm, she will step down from The Kennedy/Marshall Company and give full control to her spouse. Her next feature film producing credit will be on Spielberg's Lincoln picture, now in post-production.

"George is a true visionary. I’ve seen him build Lucasfilm from a small rebel unit in Northern California to an international fully integrated entertainment company," said Kennedy in the Lucasfilm announcement. "I’m excited to have the chance to work with such an extraordinary group of talented people."

Now, here comes the speculation.

You don't hire someone like Kathleen Kennedy to help you oversee your film company unless she's going to be working hard at it. And let's face it, Lucasfilm isn't known for doing many projects except for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, plus a very small amount of side projects like Red Tails. Even if Lucasfilm keeps developing its live-action Star Wars TV series, its Clone Wars cartoon series and a couple of feature projects, is that really enough to challenge someone of the calibre of Kennedy?

That's why I think that there's more to the hiring of Kennedy that we, the general public, are privy to right now. I'm not saying that the true motive is that Uncle George has decided that he should step aside and let someone else call the creative shots for a bunch of next generation Star Wars movies...but if something like that were one of the items being thought about by Lucas in his post-retirement years, a person like Kathleen Kennedy would be one of a very small handful of people that could pull it off and generate much-needed good buzz.

Maybe something like that has already been talked about, but even if no new Star Wars movies are in the cards I'm certain that Kathleen Kennedy will push to have Lucasfilm's output increased in the coming years. Watch this space and see how things develop.

-Lucasfilm.

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