Thursday, 16 January 2014 | MYT 3:45 PM

Star Wars invades Singapore

Filmmaking legend George Lucas with Stormtroopers and Yoda, characters from his 'Star Wars' films at the opening of Disney's Lucasfilms' new animation production facility, the Sandcrawler in Singapore. -- AFP/Stefanus Ian

Filmmaking legend George Lucas with Stormtroopers and Yoda, characters from his 'Star Wars' films at the opening of Disney's Lucasfilms' new animation production facility, the Sandcrawler in Singapore. -- AFP/Stefanus Ian

Lucasfilm Singapore to work on new Avengers and Transformers movies.

THE new Lucasfilm facility in Singapore is running at “full swing” and its artists are already working on major projects, says Kathleen Kennedy, the company’s president.

The projects include the upcoming superhero movie Avengers 2, the fifth instalment in the Jurassic Park movie franchise, the sequel to 2007’s Hitman action movie, the fourth movie in the Transformers series, an unnamed animated feature, as well as a movie to be screened as part of a theme park ride.

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Jurassic World will be released in 2015. The Hitman sequel, tentatively titled Agent 47, is expected to be released later this year. Transformers: Age Of Extinction, will also be released this year, during the June and July blockbuster season.

“This will be our busiest year ever at Industrial Light & Magic,” says Kennedy. Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, is the arm of Lucasfilm which creates digital effects for films.

“There are a number of projects that we are looking at to determine the amount of working that is moving to Singapore,” she adds, during an interview with reporters on Wednesday.

Kennedy, who was in Singapore to attend the official launch of Lucasfilm’s Sandcrawler building at Fusionopolis, says that the work done in Singapore for films such as summer action movie Pacific Rim (2013) and the animated feature Rango (2011) are examples of work being done “at the highest level”.

The Singapore facility has a specialisation in standard and quality control. “There are very few places in the world that have the talent to do that,” she continues, adding that the work being produced in Singapore is comparable to that of Lucasfilm facilities in Vancouver, Canada and San Francisco.

(From left) George Lucas, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, unveil a statue of Star Wars character Yoda to officiate the opening of Disney's Lucasfilm's new animation production facility, the Sandcrawler in Singapore. -- AFP/Stefanus Ian 

Rango won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, while Pacific Rim has grossed more than US$400mil (RM1.28bil) worldwide.

Kennedy, 60, joined Lucasfilm in 2012 after having worked as a producer on more than 60 films, including four of the highest-grossing films in history: Jurassic Park (1993), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008) and The Sixth Sense (1999).

The eight-time Oscar nominee says she will carry on working as a producer. One of her projects is the highly-anticipated seventh Star Wars film, expected to be released next year (2015).

It has been reported that there will be a new Star Wars film every year, starting from next year (2015), with the seventh film being the first of a trilogy. Origin stories will dominate the slate.

These will sit alongside a series of standalone, spin-off movies, focused on individual characters. Names mentioned in previous reports for possible spin-offs include Yoda, Han Solo and Boba Fett.

Asked if she was concerned about the possibility of the spin-offs distorting the story threads laid down in the original saga, she says that the universe created by series creator George Lucas was large enough to contain “endless opportunities” for new content.

“George was so clear as to how that works. The canon that he created was the Star Wars saga. Right now episode seven falls within that canon. The spin-off movies, or we may come up with some other way to call those films, they exist within that vast universe that he created,” she explains.

But there are rules to follow.

“There is no attempt being made to carry characters (from the standalone films) in and out of the saga episodes. Consequently, from the creative standpoint, it’s a roadmap that George made pretty clear.”

Lucasfilm Singapore is now fully housed in its new seven-storey building at the Fusionopolis high-tech park. All staff from the previous facility at Changi Business Park have moved into the new space, which features a 100-seat theatre and state-of-the-art digital production facilities and a public garden.

The building is named Sandcrawler, after the mining machines seen the Star Wars films.

There are now more than 400 employees at Lucasfilm Singapore, the majority of whom are artists. There are 130 Singaporeans employed there, with the rest coming other countries in the region.

Since its founding in 2005, Lucasfilm Singapore has contributed to projects such as the animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, while ILM Singapore was involved in several instalments of The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, the Transformers trilogy, the Iron Man franchise, The Avengers (2012) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). — The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Lucasfilm , Singapore , launching , Sandcrawler building , Fusionopolis , Kathleen Kennedy


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