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."

Geoff Berkshire lives in Los Angeles and writes about film and television. His work has appeared in Variety, the L.A. Times, and Premiere, among other publications. He is the former national entertainment editor and film critic for