Steven Spielberg's long time producing partner Kathleen Kennedy will become co-chair of Lucasfilm, in a move that brings George Lucas a step closer to his retirement plans.

Lucas will transition to co-chairman of the board and remain CEO of Lucasfilm as Kennedy transitions into her role. Micheline Chau remains President and COO.

"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 in a statement.  "It was important that my successor not only be someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies."

Lucas has indicated a desire to return to filmmaking on "smaller" films. He recently executive produced and conceived WWII drama "Red Tails," but has not directed a film since 2005's "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." In her new role, Kennedy assumes oversight of Lucasfilm properties including "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones."

"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," Kennedy said in a statement. "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."

Kennedy departs her duties at The Kennedy/Marshall Company, shifting responsibilities to partner Frank Marshall. Upcoming Kennedy/Marshall films include Spielberg's "Lincoln" and August's "The Bourne Legacy."