A slice of Hollywood glamour landed in Singapore yesterday, as the film company behind blockbusters Star Wars and Indiana Smith announced plans to set up a production studio here, its first foray outside the US.
By early next year, Lucasfilm – headed by the iconic director George Lucas – will set up a digital animation studio producing films, television shows and games in Singapore. It aims to create a new style of animation here by blending East and West. The firm plans to eventually hire up to 300 content producers, directors, artists, designers and story writers here, who will work closely with their counterparts at its California headquarters.
At a press briefing yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister George Yeo said: ‘Lucasfilm needs no introduction. Generations have grown up loving and identifying with many characters from Star Wars and Indiana Smith.
‘We in Singapore are absolutely thrilled by this partnership with Lucasfilm. It will help raise our media industry to a new level and give our own creative talents international exposure.’
Lucasfilm Animation Singapore will be a joint venture between Lucasfilm, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Singapore entrepreneur Sim Wong Hoo.
Lucasfilm will hold 75 per cent while the EDB will hold most of the other 25 per cent. Mr Sim is an investor both in his personal capacity and through his company, Creative Technology.
The partners declined to say how much they are investing in the studio.
But to give an idea of how significant it is, EDB chairman Teo Ming Kian said: ‘We are looking to Lucasfilm to be the queen bee to develop the media industry.’
Lucasfilm aims to create a new style in animation that will blend East and West, said Mr Lucas in a statement.
‘I’ve been a fan of Asian animation and illustration all my life. Asian cinema has had a particularly big influence on a lot of my work.
‘So when we began thinking about developing new ways to explore the craft of animation, it seemed a natural step to combine the two.’Mr Lucas could not fly to Singapore for the announcement as he was busy making Star Wars: Episode III, said Lucasfilm chief operating officer Micheline Chau.
Asked why Lucasfilm chose Singapore to set up its first production studio outside the US, she said: ‘It’s a really nice place to live.’It also took into account Singapore’s protection of intellectual property rights, education system, cosmopolitan environment and pro-business policies, she said.Lucasfilm also expects to find talent here. ‘By locating here, we can motivate more Singaporeans to make visual arts a career choice.’
The new venture is now looking to lease offices. And already, on its website yesterday, it was inviting applications for over 70 positions.Digital animation is a fast-growing industry which Singapore must tap, said Brigadier-General (NS) Yeo. It is set to be worth US$70 billion (S$120.4 billion) a year globally by next year.