BREAKING NEWS: Lucasfilm to Cease Singapore Studio
American entertainment production company Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic to close its VFX and animation facility in Singapore due to economic factors affecting the industry.
Singapore - Disney-owned Lucasfilm is winding down its Singapore operations, bringing a nearly 20-year stay in the country to an end, where more than 300 people are employed. The company points to changes in the global entertainment industry as a factor behind the decision.
Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocom Media Development Authority (IMDA) said in a joint statement that the global media industry is facing disruption from rapid technological advancements, while entertainment studios are coping with challenges relating to talent and profitability.
EDB and IMDA noted that Lucasfilm had developed “world-class digital animation talent for the industry through knowledge and skills transfer” during its tenure in Singapore. “Our Singaporean (talents) have worked alongside and learned from experienced producers, enabling them to develop their skills and play on the world stage,” they added.
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Lucasfilm’s visual effects and animation studio, has been operating in Singapore since 2005 and currently employs more than 300 people. “Over the next several months, ILM will be consolidating its global footprint and winding down its Singapore studio due to economic factors affecting the industry,” Disney said in a statement.
Lucasfilm sold its Sandcrawler building, located within the Fusionopolis cluster to US private equity giant Blackstone Group in 2021 for US$132 million. It was nicknamed the “Sandcrawler Building,” due to its similarity to an iconic “Star Wars” vehicle. The company had opened the facility in 2014, and it featured a 100-seat theatre and digital production operations. The state-of-the-art complex had housed ILM and served as Disney’s South-east Asia headquarters.
Through Lucasfilm, Singaporeans worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as Jurassic World Dominion and Marvel’s The Eternals. Many have gone on to work for other entertainment giants such as Netflix, or started their own companies, EDB and IMDA acknowledged.
The ongoing restructuring of the entertainment industry, which is slashing linear TV and physical media operations under pressure from streaming and which has caused major corporate mergers and down-sizing, is clearly a factor in the ILM Singapore retreat. So too, is the effect of the twin strikes in Hollywood by screenwriters and actors.
“We would like to thank the Singapore Government, industry, and community for their partnership over the past 17 years. We have been able to train and employ a generation of production talent, visual effects artists, and animators. We are very proud of the incredible work the team in Singapore has accomplished and look forward to providing new opportunities for Singapore talent to continue the innovative work they are doing,” said Luke Hetherington, executive in charge of ILM’s Singapore and Sydney studios.
ILM has given its employees as much notice as possible and is offering opportunities to relocate to one of the company’s other studios in Vancouver, London, Sydney and Mumbai.
EDB and IMDA said that Lucasfilm and the relevant government agencies are assisting the affected employees to find roles in other companies.