×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Industrial Light & Magic Ups John Knoll to Chief Creative Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

With Lucasfilm gearing up for a new era of active production of Star Wars films and TV series, the company has upped John Knoll to chief creative officer of Industrial Light & Magic.

Knoll joins ILM president Lynwen Brennan at the top of the storied f/x studio.

Knoll’s credits as vfx supervisor include the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” pictures, the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, two “Mission: Impossible” pics, two “Star Trek” films and the upcoming “Pacific Rim.” He won a vfx Oscar for the second “Pirates” pic and was co-leader of ILM’s production team on the Oscar-winning animated feature “Rango.”

In his new role, Knoll will be involved in early creative planning for all projects that come to ILM. Said Brennan: “I was looking to find someone to partner with. We always have a vfx supervisor and producer partnered to run a show here. You have the creative and the business side.”

Knoll will be the creative voice in across-the-board planning for ILM while Brennan will focus on business and costs.

Popular on Variety

Knoll’s promotion reflects Lucasfilm topper Kathleen Kennedy’s feeling that because of the growing complexity of f/x-driven pictures and their cost structures, it’s crucial to have a creative voice of Knoll’s stature in early planning, “I felt very strongly the company needed that,” Kennedy told Variety.

The chief creative officer title is especially significant now that ILM and Lucasfilm are owned by Disney. In the history of the Mouse House, only John Lasseter has ever had a chief creative officer title. Knoll will continue to work on individual titles as a vfx supe — he joined the team on “The Lone Ranger” as that pic entered its final push to completion — in addition to his managerial duties.

ILM is having a particularly busy summer, having been the lead vfx studio on “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Pacific Rim.” Knoll is the vfx supervisor on “Pacific Rim,” which is skedded for release July 12.

He says he will encourage collective troubleshooting at ILM. “Folks tend to get very busy on their own shows,” said Knoll, “and don’t have time to periodically share with everybody else what they’re working on. ‘Have you thought about that?’ We have this wealth of talent that if we’re smart we leverage on all projects.”

“We have well-established supervisors here that certainly don’t need me to interfere with their projects,” said Knoll. “Michael Bay comes because he wants to work with Scott Farrar. J.J. (Abrams) comes to ILM because he has a great relationship with Roger Guyett. These things are already working and I don’t need to interfere. (My role) is just to help from a facilities standpoint to make sure they get the resources they need, and to troubleshoot problems.”

ILM is in active planning for the next “Star Wars” picture and Brennan said the company is planning to manage all of the vfx for “Episode VII” and future “Star Wars” pics, though she left the door open to subcontracting some of the work. The company is investigating the possibility of opening a London branch, said Brennan.

More Film

  • Participant, Magnolia Pictures Buy 'John Lewis:

    Participant, Magnolia Pictures Buy 'John Lewis: Good Trouble' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Participant and Magnolia Pictures have acquired North American rights to “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” a look at the life and career of the civil rights activist and congressional leader. The film was executive produced and financed by CNN Films, AGC Studios and Time Studios. Magnolia is planning to release the film in the spring of [...]

  • Star Wars Maryann Brandon JJ Abrams

    How Could J.J. Abrams Follow 'Star Wars'? 'I'd Love to Direct a Play'

    When “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” debuts on Dec. 20, it will, of course, mark the official close to the nine-film Skywalker Saga, one of the most successful franchises in movie history, grossing more than $7.7 billion worldwide to date (not including spinoff films “Rogue One” and “Solo”). “The Rise of Skywalker” also marks [...]

  • Tim Bevan Eric Fellner Working Title

    How Working Title Heads Are Enabling the Next Generation of U.K. Filmmakers

    Eric Fellner bounds through London Screen Academy, saying hearty hellos to students, waving to faculty and showing off the state-of-the-art facilities at the newly opened school to a Variety reporter. The brainchild of Fellner’s Working Title co-chairman, Tim Bevan, the school is intended to teach teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 the skills [...]

  • In the Heights Movie

    Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jon M. Chu Debut 'In the Heights' Trailer

    In the first trailer for “In the Heights,” Warner Bros. and Lin-Manuel Miranda are giving a look at a couple of days in the life of what it’s like in Washington Heights. “It’s a story of a block that was disappearing,” Anthony Ramos, who stars as bodega owner Usnavi, tells young kids in the neighborhood. [...]

  • Tim Bevan Eric Fellner Working Title

    'Cats' Is Working Title's Next Bid to Turn British Pop Culture Into Box Office Gold

    From “Bridget Jones’s Diary” to “Mr. Bean,” Working Title has for the past three and a half decades helped ensure that the sun never sets on British pop culture. The leaders of the London-based film and television production company, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, have been important emissaries from across the pond, backing stories that [...]

  • Hugh GrantVariety Studio: Actors on Actors,

    Hugh Grant Says Iconic 'Love Actually' Dancing Scene Was 'Absolute Hell' (EXCLUSIVE)

    It may be more than 15 years since “Love Actually” was released, but Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and Richard Curtis have finally opened up about one of the the film’s defining moments even as the movie made surprise election-related headlines in the U.K. this week. Grant, Firth and Curtis all feature in the career retrospective [...]

  • Jenna Coleman The Cry

    Great Point Media Teams With MC Credit Partners on New Film and TV Finance Initiative

    Britain’s Great Point Media is partnering with U.S.-based institutional investor MC Credit Partners on a finance initiative to fund new film and TV projects. London-based Great Point has committed $80 million to the initiative, and MCCP will invest up to $100 million from the funds under its management. The first films and TV shows to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content