“Star Wars” creator and the founder of Lucasfilm, George Lucas, inaugurated the company's new digital production headquarters in Singapore on Thursday, and the ceremony was attended by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The Sandcrawler-shaped building, named after a large treaded vehicle in the original “Star Wars” movie, rests on a 242,190 square-foot campus and is located in a southwestern suburb in the city-state. And, according to reports, the building features a Yoda fountain, a 100-seat theater and state-of-the-art digital production capabilities.
"When we first opened our Singapore studio in 2005, the local production landscape looked very different. It was relatively small, with a limited talent pool and virtually no visual effects work being done,” Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, reportedly said.
The company’s headcount has reportedly multiplied to more than 360 employees from just about two dozen in the past couple of years.
Lucas had sold his company to Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) in 2012 for about $4 billion. He reportedly said, in a statement, that his colleagues were initially skeptical about his decision about establishing their first overseas facility, which had started in rented premises. But now, the Sandcrawler building will include Disney’s Southeast Asia operations and ESPN Asia Pacific as its tenants.
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The Singapore unit of the company is currently working on “Transformers 4” and “Avengers 2.” The sequel to 2007’s "Hitman" and an unnamed animated movie project are also in the works. Lucasfilm is planning to release “Star Wars: Episode 7” in 2015.
"This will be our busiest year ever at Industrial Light & Magic," Kennedy reportedly said.
Singapore has positioned itself as a digital-media hub, and the Sandcrawler opened only a day after the launch of another major new studio facility, Infinity Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to consulting firm Deloitte, Singapore’s animation and digital media industries have enjoyed remarkable success, growing at a compounded annual rate of 26 percent between 2006 and 2010, the local Straits Times earlier reported.