Passing the Baton: Meet Kathleen Kennedy

George Lucas has anointed Kathleen Kennedy both as the filmmaker to take Star Wars into its bold new future as well as the person to run Lucasfilm. She is a longtime friend and collaborator with Lucas, and one of the most successful and respected producers and executives in the film industry today.

Kennedy has produced or executive produced over 60 films, which have collectively garnered 120 Academy Award® nominations, 25 wins, and have grossed over $11 billion worldwide. Among her credits are three of the highest grossing films in motion picture history: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and The Sixth Sense, as well as such blockbuster entertainment as the Indiana Jones trilogy, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Gremlins, The Goonies, Poltergeist, War of the Worlds, Twister, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Her diverse filmography also includes acclaimed dramas like this year’s Lincoln, as well as War Horse, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Munich, Seabiscuit, Schindler’s List, and The Color Purple, and animated motion pictures like The Adventures of Tintin, Persepolis, An American Tail, and The Land Before Time.

Kennedy has produced the films of such directors as Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis, M. Night Shyamalan, Frank Oz, Peter Bogdanovich, and Richard Donner.

Prior to joining Lucasfilm, Kennedy headed The Kennedy/Marshall Company, which she founded in 1992 with director/producer Frank Marshall, and in 1982 she co-founded the phenomenally successful Amblin Entertainment with Marshall and Steven Spielberg. Nominated for eight Academy Awards® as a producer, Kennedy is also currently vice president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), as well as sitting on their Board of Trustees.

“I’m excited to have the chance to work with such an extraordinary group of talented people,” said Kennedy upon becoming co-chair of Lucasfilm Ltd. earlier this year. “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 there to advise me as we set out to make the next Star Wars films — it is nice to have Yoda by your side.”

Following the announcement that the first new Star Wars project under her auspices will be the long-awaited Episode VII, it can be revealed that Kennedy and her team at Lucasfilm is already in early development of this new era of Star Wars movies. “We’re in the midst of the really fun part of the process,” she says. “We’re sitting down with a couple of writers and starting to discuss ideas and starting to talk about what those stories might be.”