Using the Force: Lucasfilm opens Singapore creativity centre

Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:39am EST
 
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By John O'Callaghan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - "Star Wars" creator Lucasfilm formally expanded its creative universe on Thursday by launching its visual effects and animation hub in Singapore that works on Hollywood blockbusters and bolsters marketing efforts in fast-growing Asia.

"May the Force be with you," Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of the Southeast Asian city-state, said in a speech at the glass-enclosed and horseshoe-shaped "Sandcrawler" building.

Lucasfilm Ltd, bought by Walt Disney Co in 2012 for more than $4 billion, opened a small studio in 2005 in another part of Singapore but has built up the size and skills of the team into a staff of 400 at the new headquarters.

"This is a very robust operation that is comparable to exactly what we're doing in San Francisco or Vancouver," Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm and a producer of more than 60 films, told reporters before the launch.

"Many of the top-end movies that are being made in the next 18 months to two years, a vast variety of that work will head in this direction."

In Singapore, about 350 artists from some 40 countries are now working on a full-length animated feature and films that include "Hitman" and "Transformers 4".

More projects will be assigned as Lucasfilm's visual effects unit Industrial Light & Magic goes into its "busiest year ever", Kennedy said, including the next installments of the hugely successful "Star Wars" franchise.

George Lucas, the company's famous founder who has retired from making big-budget films to focus on smaller features, said quality-obsessed colleagues were very skeptical when he first suggested an expansion into Asia a decade ago.   Continued...

 
Filmmaker George Lucas welcomes Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as they walk past people dressed up as Stormtroopers and Darth Vader characters from Lucas' "Star Wars" during the opening of Lucasfilms' new animation production facility, the Sandcrawler, in Singapore January 16, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su