Kathleen Kennedy
Credit: Tim Whitby/Getty Images

Turns out George Lucas wasn’t bluffing with all that talk about retiring. Lucasfilm Ltd. announced today that Steven Spielberg’s longtime producing partner Kathleen Kennedy is joining the production company as co-chair. Lucas will retain his position as CEO but Kennedy’s new role will allow him to “move forward with his retirement plans,” according to a press release.

A former president of the Producers Guild of America, Kennedy has produced seven films that received Academy Award Best Picture nominations, including E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, War Horse, Seabiscuit, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, after having started out as Spielberg’s assistant in the late 1970s. To assume her position at Lucasfilm, she’ll be stepping down from production powerhouse The Kennedy/Marshall Company, which she leads with husband Frank Marshall. Lucas and Kennedy will be sharing co-chair responsibilities as she finishes work on Spielberg’s Lincoln and Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy.

Lucasfilm remains a lucrative business despite relatively minimal output aside from its ongoing curation of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. This January, the San Francisco-based company released the World War II fighter-pilot actioner Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen, which became the first non-Star Wars, non-Indiana Jones movie the studio had produced since 1994’s Radioland Murders. A fifth Indiana Jones movie is rumored to be in the works, however, along with a live-action Star Wars TV series that’s been teased since the release of the last theatrical installment set in that galaxy far far away, Revenge of the Sith, in 2005. The studio also continues to produce the highly rated animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars for Cartoon Network.

Whether or not the prolific Kennedy’s appointment indicates a new period of production activity for Lucasfilm remains to be seen. In a statement Lucas said, “As the company grows and expands I wanted to be sure the employees of Lucasfilm have a strong captain for the ship… It was important that my successor not only be someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies.”

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