SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Filmmaker George Lucas on Friday named veteran producer Kathleen Kennedy as his co-chair and successor at the iconic film studio he founded four decades ago.
Kennedy and Lucas will serve as board co-chairs at Lucasfilm Ltd. as the "Star Wars" creator moves forward with his retirement plans.
Lucas, 68, will continue as CEO and work with Kennedy as she transitions into her new role at Lucasfilm, the San Francisco-based company said.
The legendary filmmaker said he chose Kennedy as his successor because he was looking for "someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies."
"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," Lucas said in a statement.
In recent months, Lucas has told reporters he plans to move away from producing big-budget movies so he can focus on smaller, art-house films.
Kennedy will step down from her role at The Kennedy/Marshall Co. and shift responsibilities to her partner Frank Marshall. Together they have produced Academy Award-nominated films such as "War Horse," ''The Adventures of Tintin," ''The Sixth Sense" and "Sea Biscuit."
Over the past three decades, Kennedy has worked with Steven Spielberg to produce blockbuster films such as "E.T.," ''Schindler's List," and the "Indiana Jones" and "Jurassic Park" franchises.
Kennedy, 58, said she feels fortunate that Lucas will work with her for the "next year or two" as she moves into her new job.
"It is nice to have Yoda by your side," Kennedy said in a statement. "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."
Since Lucas founded Lucasfilm in 1971, it has grown into an international entertainment company that produces movies and television shows, designs interactive software, and provides visual effects and audio post-production services.