Kathleen Kennedy Named As Co-Chair And Successor To George Lucas At Lucasfilm [Updated]

Ever since George Lucas finished his Star Wars prequel trilogy, he's said he'd like to return to the movies of his formative years. Small, experimental films in the vein of his student films and THX 1138. He sort of did that with Red Tails, a film he'd been wanting to make for a long, long time but it certainly wasn't experimental, small, or particulaly good.

Now, it seems he's finally going to really make that leap. In an upcoming interview with Empire Magazine (what isn't in this upcoming issue?) Lucas says that he's going to be "moving away" from his company, LucasFilm, to concentrate on making those kind of movies. Sounds like that retirement is finally going to happen. Read his quote and more below.

Update: Kathleen Kennedy has been named co-chair at Lucasfilm. She'll leave the Kennedy/Marshall Co to run Lucasfilm. George Lucas will remain CEO and co-chair of the board at Lucasfilm, but Kennedy will be in charge day-to-day. A press release from Lucasfilm has been added after the break.The Force.net pointed out the quote from the preview of the new issue of Empire:

I'm moving away from the company, I'm moving away from all my businesses, I'm finishing all my obligations and I'm going to retire to my garage with my saw and hammer and build hobby movies. I've always wanted to make movies that were more experimental in nature, and not have to worry about them showing in movie theatres.

That's a hell of a declarative statement and I, for one, say "Bravo George." I really hope he does it this time. No matter how you feel about the prequels, in recent months it's become increasingly obvious that he needs to get away from the game and if spending his time in a garage making small movies for YouTube or whatever is going to make him happy, then do that.

Of course, everyone will quickly ask what "finishings all my obligations" to LucasFilm means for not only the Star Wars TV show but a fifth Indiana Jones movie, for which Lucas is the sole person who needs to sign on. As a fan of both franchises, I say, let it go. I'm fine with things just the way they are and have felt that way since the second I walked out of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Update: Here's the press release announcing Kathleen Kennedy's new position:SAN FRANCISCO-Lucasfilm Ltd. today announced that Kathleen Kennedy will become Co-Chair of Lucasfilm. In an effort to move forward with his retirement plans, George Lucas will work with Kathleen Kennedy to transition into her new role. Lucas will become Co-Chairman of the Board of Lucasfilm and continue as CEO. Micheline Chau will remain as President and COO of Lucasfilm, and continue to focus on the day-to-day operations of the business."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," said George Lucas. "It was important that my successor not only be someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies. I care deeply about my employees—it is their creativity and hard work that has made this company what it is today. As the company grows and expands I wanted to be sure the employees of Lucasfilm have a strong captain for the ship. 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."Director Steven Spielberg said, "George's prescience is once again proven by his choice of my long time producing partner, Kathy Kennedy to co-chair Lucasfilm. 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. She will get just as much support from me with Lucasfilm as George has given both of us all these years.""George is a true visionary," said Kathleen Kennedy. "I've seen him build Lucasfilm from a small rebel unit in Northern California to an international fully integrated entertainment company. I'm excited to have the chance to work with such an extraordinary group of talented people. 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."Seven-time Academy Award nominated Kathleen Kennedy is one of the most successful and esteemed producers and executives in the film industry. As a producer she has an impeccable record with a robust filmography working with such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, Robert Zemeckis, Barry Levinson, Clint Eastwood, David Fincher and Gary Ross. As a testament to her standing in the film community, she previously held the position of governor and officer of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and currently serves as a member of the board of trustees. She is also a former President of the Producers Guild of America.Kathleen will step down from her role at The Kennedy/Marshall Company, shifting her responsibilities to partner Frank Marshall. The Kennedy/Marshall Company is currently in post production on LINCOLN, directed by long time collaborator Steven Spielberg whom Kennedy also produced for on the INDIANA JONES and JURASSIC PARK franchises, and THE BOURNE LEGACY, written and directed by Tony Gilroy and produced by Marshall. Under the Kennedy/Marshall banner, the pair has produced such Academy Award nominated Best Picture films as WAR HORSE (six nominations), THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (thirteen nominations) THE SIXTH SENSE, (six nominations) and SEABISCUIT (seven nominations), as well as blockbusters including the BOURNE series and THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. Marshall will oversee the company's current slate of projects and continue to expand it via their development deals with DreamWorks and CBS TV Studios.