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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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  • Jericho
    well i saw this coming...sort of....ok not really, i expected him to die first but this is a nice change......
  • DaveLister_JMC
    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.
    • Sean
      Lucas directed all three Star Wars prequels...
      • DaveLister_JMC
        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. 
  • Akirakorn
    I stopped reading at "stepping away from mainstream movies". He made 4 in the last 20+ years, whoop dee doo. Oh and they sucked.
  • Xerxexx
    Maybe we will get good films now?
    • http://www.quanahblogs.com/ Quanah
      Maaaaaaaaaaaaaybeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...............
      • Xerxexx
         I'll take those odds!
        • Akirakorn
          $5 against Xerxexx (I say we will NOT get good films)... any other takers?
          • Xerxexx
             I am holding on to hope!
        • Max Renn
          3720 to 1
  • http://www.quanahblogs.com/ Quanah
    I got an experiment for you: Episodes 7, 8, and 9. Let Kennedy produce and Steven direct. Make that your new favorite. 
    • jungle jim
      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.
    • Blargh
      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.
      • http://www.quanahblogs.com/ Quanah
        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. 
        • Uza61ftw
          Green Lantern said no?! Damn you Hal Jordan!
  • whizz
    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...
  • Dangerous Don Danger
    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.
    • Falcon19
      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?
      • Dangerous Don Danger
        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.
  • john
    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.
  • Ehsan Davodi
    Lukas is Unbeatable , Miss him so much , I hope he came back and know he doesn't .
  • David Banner
    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? :)
  • IMISSLOST!!
    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!!
    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!!  
  • http://www.jimmylove.com/ Jimmy Love
    I'm not holding my breath! its 6 of one thing & half dozen of the other.
  • Bl00dwerK
    Maybe she'll get us the proper release of the originals like we want.
    • bozo connors
      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. 
      • Bl00dwerK
         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.
    • NickInTheCloset
      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.
  • bozo connors
    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. 
  • Deadpool-003
    My advice is to immediately being production on a secret apprentice movie.
    • Akirakorn
      Why? The games (only played the first one) were good enough.
  • Ticketmaster
    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. 
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ5hK-D8kRQ Crapola
    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.
  • Max Renn
    Even retired, Lucas won't be able to keep his sticky fingers away from Lucasfilm projects.

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