Lucasfilm Ltd., which has a long history in Marin County and retains facilities northwest of San Rafael, announced that Kathleen Kennedy will become co-chair of the entertainment and media production company as its founder, Star Wars creator and Marin County resident George Lucas, seeks to move forward with retirement plans.
Mr. Lucas will work with Ms. Kennedy as she transitions into her new role, and he will become co-chairman of the board and continue as chief executive officer. Micheline Chau will remain Lucasfilm president and chief operating officer and will continue to focus on the day-to-day operations, the San Francisco-based company said.
"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," Mr. 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."
Caring for company employees whose tireless creativity has been crucial to company success also was integral to the choice in successors, he continued.
"As the company grows and expands I wanted to be sure the employees of Lucasfilm have a strong captain for the ship," he said. "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."
Ms. Kennedy, a producer nominated for an Academy Award seven times, has "a robust filmography," according to Lucasfilm. She has worked with filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, Robert Zemeckis, Barry Levinson, Clint Eastwood, David Fincher and Gary Ross.
Ms. Kennedy previously was governor and officer of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and currently is on the board of trustees. She also is a former president of the Producers Guild of America.
Ms. Kennedy will step down from her role at The Kennedy/Marshall Company, shifting her responsibilities to partner Frank Marshall.
"George is a true visionary," Ms. Kennedy said in a statement. "I've seen him build Lucasfilm from a small rebel unit in Northern California to an international fully integrated entertainment company. 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."
A colleague of Mr. Lucas' on a number of projects, Mr. Spielberg said the pick of his longtime production partner as co-chair was prescient.
"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," Mr. Spielberg said. "She will get just as much support from me with Lucasfilm as George has given both of us all these years."