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Producer Kathleen Kennedy Joins Lucasfilm as George Lucas Retires

by
June 1, 2012
Source: Deadline

Lucasfilm Ltd

If you're a producer and your first five films are E.T., Poltergeist, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Gremlins, chances are pretty good you're going to have a solid career. As Steven Spielberg's producing partner, Kathleen Kennedy has one of the most impressive resumes in Hollywood history, and her films have earned over $5 billion at the domestic box office. Now, Deadline reports that Kennedy is taking that success to Lucasfilm, where she'll be the new Co-Chair alongside George Lucas, who announced he's stepping down from mainstream films in favor of experimental efforts.

Kennedy is stepping down from her position as co-head of the Kennedy/Marshall Co. production company she founded with husband Frank Marshall, and will eventually become Lucas' successor to the Skywalker Ranch as he slowly transitions out of mainstream filmmaking altogether. Lucas told Empire Magazine:

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.”

It's unclear how this move will affect Kennedy and Spielberg's working relationship, which is one of the longest-running and most successful in the entertainment industry. Lucas is sticking by her side for at least a year or two while he gets her up to speed on his plans for expansion and growth at Lucasfilm, so there's the possibility that she'll still have time to work with Spielberg on some upcoming projects before she takes the helm by herself. After that, it's all up in the air. Her presence as a producer will certainly be missed, but perhaps she's the jolt of energy that a tired company like Lucasfilm needs to heat up again and start making movies. Just because George is retiring doesn't mean the whole company is falling apart, so hopefully Kennedy can get some new blood in there and start generating some quality entertainment. Thoughts?

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Reader Feedback - 36 Comments

1

well i saw this coming...sort of....ok not really, i expected him to die first but this is a nice change......

Jericho on Jun 1, 2012

2

I think this will actually help Lucasfilm in the long run. Love him or not George Lucas is what he is. I think the weight of what Star Wars became sort of undid him. He wanted really badly to have people love what he did with the prequels; but somehow couldn't bring himself to really deliver what the fans wanted. I feel as though most people were expecting a prequel trilogy to focus on the clone wars and have great charismatic characters, but somehow that just didn't happen. Unfortunately the first two prequels were padded out stories that didn't need four+ hours to be told. By the time he got to Episode III and the bulk of the points of backstory interest it was too late. The public opinions had been formed and many of the original fans were too disappointed to get all that excited.  I think what it mostly came down to was nobody at Lucasfilm truly challenged George Lucas on any of his proposed ideas for characters and story structure. This is most evident in Episode I which plays like nothing more than series of bullet points just aching for a through line to tie them together. In the original trilogy Lucas had some great talent around him to help polish the final products. His producer Gary Kurtz demanded better charcters, dialog and story structure/pacing. In The Empire Strikes Back he had Irvin Kershner directing and writers Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett to help punch up his rather dry writing with some truly crackling dialog which really helped propel the film's story. There's little wonder that many fans name Empire Strikes Back as their favorite of the entire saga. The producer of the prequels Rick McCallum seems like nothing more than a clueless yes man following Lucas around telling how great everything was.  Moving George Lucas away from the development of mainstream projects will only improve the company's output. Kathleen Kennedy has a proven track record; George Lucas on the other hand hasn't directed a decent film since the first Star Wars. I expect that Lucasfilm can keep going. It will be interesting to see what kind of projects they seek to develop under Kennedy's direction.

DaveLister_JMC on Jun 1, 2012

3

Lucas directed all three Star Wars prequels...

Sean on Jun 2, 2012

4

Yes... and for the most part they were terribly lackluster efforts. Like I said... Lucas hasn't directed a *decent* film since the first Star Wars. 

DaveLister_JMC on Jun 2, 2012

5

I stopped reading at "stepping away from mainstream movies". He made 4 in the last 20+ years, whoop dee doo. Oh and they sucked.

Akirakorn on Jun 1, 2012

6

Maybe we will get good films now?

Xerxexx on Jun 1, 2012

7

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaybeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...............

Quanah on Jun 1, 2012

8

 I'll take those odds!

Xerxexx on Jun 1, 2012

9

$5 against Xerxexx (I say we will NOT get good films)... any other takers?

Akirakorn on Jun 2, 2012

10

 I am holding on to hope!

Xerxexx on Jun 3, 2012

11

3720 to 1

Max Renn on Jun 3, 2012

12

I got an experiment for you: Episodes 7, 8, and 9. Let Kennedy produce and Steven direct. Make that your new favorite. 

Quanah on Jun 1, 2012

13

thats a great idea. some of the best parts of episode iii were the scenes steven guest directed. plus itd be cool to have all those old actors together for something new and exciting, under the right direction.

jungle jim on Jun 1, 2012

14

It feels like a shame that we may never get to see Lucas's "trilogy of trilogies". Can't be worse than the prequels right? But I can't see Lucas letting someone else do it.

Blargh on Jun 2, 2012

15

That's the weird part for me. He wrote and directed Episode 4 and then 5 and 6 were directed by others, and he only took partial credit for the writing. Episodes 1, 2, and 3 were all him. Why doesn't he just give up the reigns on 7, 8, and 9? Is it ego? The fans are screaming for it, but it's a consistently resounding "No" from GL. Weird. 

Quanah on Jun 2, 2012

16

Green Lantern said no?! Damn you Hal Jordan!

Uza61ftw on Jun 3, 2012

17

I don't believe he'll be able to let go...despite his intentions...just look at the star wars movies...pretty obsessive...but we'll see...

whizz on Jun 1, 2012

18

What made Star Wars such a great film was the constraint placed on Lucas by the '70s. Think about Jabba's first introduction in Jedi and what a cool villain he was, and now compare that to Lucas' contrasting scene between Han and Jabba in the hanger where Han literally walks all over this unrecognizable, weak ass bitch. There's a long list of missed opportunities and terrible decisions made by Lucas throughout all 6 films. From Greedo to Boba Fett's death to Sebastian Shaw (or was that Hayden Christensen?) to Jar Jar to "Noooooo!" I still can't believe he didn't turn Anakin into Vader sooner so we could see Darth Vader in full black Sith Lord regalia destroying the Jedi. Is it just me or would that have been to coolest thing?   "I’ve always wanted to make movies that were more experimental in nature, and not have to worry about them showing in movie theatres.”   I'll  never understand why Lucas became so obsessed with Star Wars as to let it destroy his career. He never became the filmmaker he claims he always wanted to be. I don't care if he retires or makes 200 more movies for mainstream Hollywood. It's not like he's the only one filling movie screens with total crap.   All the best, George.

Dangerous Don Danger on Jun 1, 2012

19

You do know that Boba Fett did not die in the Sarlacc Pit and do you understand the story behind the hangar scene with Han and Jabba?

Falcon19 on Jun 3, 2012

20

I'm only interested in the movies, so I don't follow what comic books, novels or cartoons have to say. I recently saw a statue of Darth Maul with mechanical legs, so I assume he survived being cut in half. Bully for him.

Dangerous Don Danger on Jun 3, 2012

21

I doubt any filmmaker working today would deny the influence of Star Wars on cinema.  George has made some missteps throughout his career.  But the good far outweighs the bad. I'll admit there are serious problems with Episodes I & II, but they are still entertaining.  And I still maintain that Revenge of the Sith is a great film... and as I recently watched the complete saga on blu-ray, I actually think it is my favorite of the six films.

john on Jun 1, 2012

22

Lukas is Unbeatable , Miss him so much , I hope he came back and know he doesn't .

Ehsan Davodi on Jun 1, 2012

23

Kathleen Kennedy joining this $ multi-billion franchise is good news, I have no doubt she will lead LucasFilm in a great direction.  It does make you wonder: what do they have planned? 🙂

David Banner on Jun 1, 2012

24

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } First of all, this is good move. There will be fresh eyes and other perspectives from others.People truly don't appreciate how incredible it is  for a man to conceptualize, create, revolutionize and build something like this. For a man in the 70's to invent two modern myths and build a special effects studio at time when there were none at the time is even more amazing. They even did the Avengers!I think that the story concepts of the prequels where excellent. It was just the execution that hurt them. He needed other directors and writers to work through the process . If he had functioned in the same capacity as he had in the Empire Strikes Back and Raiders, where they were more collaborative efforts, the results would have been much better. I think that is the formula that works best for Lucas. Like in Raiders he came up with the story but let others write it and direct it and flesh it out.....Ok, so that didn't work so well in the Crystal Skull. BUT, this is still the best formula for him.He has always said that he hates writing and directing. I think if he had passed his story ideas to energetic writers and directors and allowed them to go through the first,second and third draft processes, I think those movies could've been on par with the originals possibly. I mea,n he had a Dream team of actors in them. Terence Stamp, Samuel L. Jackson, etc.  Could you imagine those movies and actors treated with the same attention as a Irwin Kirshner or a Lawrence Kasdan. He  functions best as the architect. An architect conceptualizes and designs but doesn't go out and try to build the building by hand himself. He contracts those duties out to others and lets them do what they do best. I think this is the beginning of a new day for Lucasfilm and just think of all of the people that can now take his concepts and take everything to the next level. Now let's get the new Star Wars movies out there with new directors and writers intent on bringing the magic back!!! I need to be 10 again. Ha!!  

IMISSLOST!! on Jun 1, 2012

25

First of all, this is good move. There will be fresh eyes and other perspectives from others. 

People truly don't appreciate how incredible it is  for a man to conceptualize, create, revolutionize and build something like this. For a man in the 70's to invent two modern myths and build a special effects studio at time when there were none at the time is even more amazing. They even did the Avengers! 

I think that the story concepts of the prequels where excellent. It was just the execution that hurt them. He needed other directors and writers to work through the process . If he had functioned in the same capacity as he had in the Empire Strikes Back and Raiders, where they were more collaborative efforts, the results would have been much better. 

 I think that is the formula that works best for Lucas. Like in Raiders he came up with the story but let others write it and direct it and flesh it out.....Ok, so that didn't work so well in the Crystal Skull. BUT, this is still the best formula for him.

He has always said that he hates writing and directing. I think if he had passed his story ideas to energetic writers and directors and allowed them to go through the first,second and third draft processes, I think those movies could've been on par with the originals possibly. I mean he had a Dream team of actors in them. Terence Stamp, Samuel L. Jackson, etc.  Could you imagine those movies and actors treated with the same attention as a Irwin Kirshner or a Lawrence Kasdan.
 
 He  functions best as the architect. An architect conceptualizes and designs but doesn't go out and try to build the building by hand himself. He contracts those duties out to others and lets them do what they do best. 

I think this is the beginning of a new day for Lucasfilm and just think of all of the people that can now take his concepts and take everything to the next level. 

Now let's get the new Star Wars movies out there with new directors and writers intent on bringing the magic back!!! I need to be 10 again. Ha!!  

IMISSLOST!! on Jun 1, 2012

26

I'm not holding my breath! its 6 of one thing & half dozen of the other.

Jimmy Love on Jun 2, 2012

27

Maybe she'll get us the proper release of the originals like we want.

Bl00dwerK on Jun 2, 2012

28

Heh - fat chance.  But maybe.  It's funny, because he seems so in love with profits sometimes - & a re-release of those would be such a no-brainer almost purely profit endeavor that would please sooo many fans.  Who knows. 

bozo connors on Jun 2, 2012

29

 He's just being hard-headed. The Special Editions wouldn't be hated on so much if he'd stop trying to make people accept them. There are parts of them I like, but the whole Han Solo thing killed it.

Bl00dwerK on Jun 2, 2012

30

Not a chance. The reason Lucas changed it was so that his ex-wife who left him for the handyman couldn't lay claims to any future profits. As it should be. Amen.

NickInTheCloset on Jun 3, 2012

31

Best of luck to  Mrs. Kennedy.  Big shoes to fill.  Wonder if we'll see some Lucasfilm/Dreamworks collaboration!?  (married to Frank Marshall)  Epic possibilities there. 

bozo connors on Jun 2, 2012

32

My advice is to immediately being production on a secret apprentice movie.

Deadpool-003 on Jun 2, 2012

33

Why? The games (only played the first one) were good enough.

Akirakorn on Jun 2, 2012

34

Kathleen Kennedy... meh. She's no visionary. More things change the more they stay the same. She'll just make sure to keep the status quo. She won't be taking any risks. 

Ticketmaster on Jun 2, 2012

35

I didn't mind the prequels, they were just a part of the franchise. The only one that was really good was Empire. Of course as a child I loved them all, well the first 3. But he went back and tried to 'fix' them so much I lost any respect for him. An artist needs to let go.

Crapola on Jun 2, 2012

36

Even retired, Lucas won't be able to keep his sticky fingers away from Lucasfilm projects.

Max Renn on Jun 3, 2012

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