Marin filmmaker George Lucas has named veteran producer Kathleen Kennedy as his co-chair and successor at the iconic film studio he founded.
Lucasfilm announced last week that Kennedy and Lucas will serve as board co-chairs as the "Star Wars" creator moves forward with his retirement plans.
Officials say Lucas will continue as CEO and work with Kennedy as she transitions into her new role at the San Francisco-based company.
The San Anselmo resident says 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.
Lucas has been talking about retirement for some time. He also has been embroiled in a local development dispute over his longstanding proposal to build a 270,000-square-foot digital studio complex on Grady Ranch in Lucas Valley, north of San Rafael. He pulled the plug on the project after encountering opposition from some neighbors and questions from regulatory agencies, igniting a firestorm of controversy in Marin. He said he will build the complex somewhere outside Marin that is more receptive to his plans; meanwhile, he has said he will pursue an affordable housing development at Grady Ranch.
In recent months, Lucas has said he plans to 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 "Seabiscuit."
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. "George and I have talked about the enormous opportunities that lie ahead for the company, and as George moves toward 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 company that produces movies and television shows, designs interactive software, and provides visual effects and audio post-production services.
Micheline Chau will continue as chief operating officer.