George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy Launch Lucasfilm Facility in Singapore
Escorted by a phalanx of stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself, George Lucas officially opened Lucasfilm's new Singapore HQ, part of the 22,500-square-meter (242,190 square-foot) "Sandcrawler" building, named after the Jawas' vehicle on Tatooine in Star Wars IV.
Lucas, who sold the company he founded to The Walt Disney Co. in 2012 for around $4 billion, told local media that everyone had thought he was crazy when he originally moved to set up shop in the Southeast Asian city-state. But the Sandcrawler "is a symbol of the people of Singapore and computer animation combining with Lucasfilm to create something that is (of) world quality", he said.
"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished," he added. "We couldn't have found a better partner anywhere in the world."
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, also in town for the unveiling, said the new facility was in "full swing" and its Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, VFX wing, was currently working on projects including Transformers 4 and Avengers 2, and it expects to add up to 40 staff by the end of the year.
"This will be our busiest year ever at Industrial Light & Magic," Kennedy told reporters.
Lucasfilm’s operations in Singapore have worked on projects including Pacific Rim, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the Iron Man franchise, as well as the Clone Wars series.
The number of employees at Lucasfilm has expanded to more than 360 from 26 in the past nine years in the city-state.
"It is very easy to attract additional talent to come here from anywhere on the globe," said David Anderman, general manager at Lucasfilm, at a press briefing. "It's got a very supportive intellectual property regime."
The property is located in a southwest Singapore suburb and has a 100-seat theater and retail space -- as well as a Yoda fountain.
Singapore has been aggressively expanding its media business, and the Lucasfilm opening comes one day after the launch of a major new studio facility, Infinite Studios.
According to Deloitte, Singapore's games and animation industries, together with online and mobile media, have demonstrated robust growth, recording a compound annual growth rate of 26 percent from 2006-2010, the local Straits Times reported.