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Morris ankles Lucas Digital post

Exec returns to his producing roots

In a move that has triggered a reorganization at the top of George Lucas’ f/x and sound companies, Lucas Digital topper Jim Morris is ankling the company to resume his earlier career as a producer.

Morris will not be replaced as president of Lucas Digital, which comprises Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. Instead, Skywalker Sound VP Glenn Kiser will report directly to Lucasfilm president Micheline Chau, as will new ILM prexy Chrissie England, who has been upped from senior veep of production at ILM.

Lucas Digital will continue to exist as a holding company but not as a functional unit of Lucasfilm.

Morris leaves after 17 years, the last 11 of them as president. England has spent 27 years with the company.

“I’ve been secretly getting her prepared for this position for the last year or so,” he told Daily Variety.

England was a production supervisor for ILM’s effects work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Willow,” and has been executive in charge of production on the Star Wars sagas, “Saving Private Ryan,” “Men in Black” and “The Perfect Storm” to name a few. She has served as ILM’s production sr. VP since 2002. She has been with the company more than half her life.

Morris pointed to ILM’s transition from the photochemical era to digital effects over his tenure as a key accomplishment. “It’s grown to seven times the size it was when I started,” he said. “That’s something that’s had a transformative effect on the cinema.”

Exec said he hopes to return to production. “As much as I’ve enjoyed the effects and sound post business,” he noted, “I’ve spent a lot of time here, and I’d like to produce a film.”

Chau told Daily Variety England’s biggest challenge will be managing Lucasfilm’s evolution into a digital studio. “We are entering a new era in the digital realm,” she stated, “and we’re clearly seeing that all the business we’re in — games, special effects and animation — are all becoming more alike.”

Lucasfilm will move to a 23-acre custom-designed campus on San Francisco’s Presidio in summer 2005. The move will bring all Lucasfilm business units under one roof for the first time.

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