Rick McCallum won’t be working on Disney’s upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. The longtime producer is leaving Lucasfilm, the company announced this weekend. “Rick is a close friend as well as an extremely talented producer. No matter how impossible I made the task, Rick was able to overcome the challenges, “ said George Lucas on a statement on Starwars.com. “In addition to putting together crew crews and working miracles with the budget, he was instrumental in helping to push filmmaking into the 21st century. He has a larger-than-life personality and made this amazing 20-year journey with him a fun one.” McCallum, who joined Lucasfilm in 1992 to work on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series, is going to make independent films. Based out of Prague, the Star Wars and Red Tails producer has a movie on the 1941 Babi Yar Massacre in development and another on the boy soldiers of Sierra Leone.

McCallum is the first Lucasfilm insider to leave the company since Disney announced its purchase of the company for $4.05 billion on October 30. Lucas has handed the running of Lucasfilm over to Kathleen Kennedy but will serve as a consultant and brand manager. Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said October 30 that three new Star Wars movies are coming over the next few years. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire scribe Michael Arndt was announced on November 9 as the screenplay writer for Episode VII, which is expected in 2015.

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