New building scheduled to open late 2012 or early 2013

Lucasfilm has announced plans to build a facility in Singapore to house its burgeoning digital production businesses.

It will house the Singapore branches of Lucasfilm Animation, LucasArts games and Industrial Light & Magic.

Those operations already have 400 staffers in Lucasfilm’s existing offices in the Signature Building in Changi Business Park. Head count there is increasing rapidly and Lucasfilm is outgrowing the space. Company employs about 1,700 at its San Francisco headquarters.

The building, which boasts a futuristic design reminiscent of something from the “Star Wars” universe, is to be in the Fusionopolis area of Singapore and will have eight floors of office space and roughly 242,000 square feet, all built above a public garden. Groundbreaking will be early next year with completion skedded for late 2012 or early 2013.

Lucasfilm prexy Micheline Chau said the new location has better infrastructure than the current location.

“We really feel it’s important for employees to work in a great state-of-the-art facility with appropriate amenities,” said Chau, who cited proximity to subway, housing, retail and theaters. “And it sits in an area that’s sort of built for the media industry and very well set up for production.”

So far, ILM Singapore has been a satellite facility and hasn’t taken the lead on any movie projects, but Chau said the hope is that it will.

“It’s not there yet but it’s getting there. The progress that facility has made has astonished us,” said Chau.

Colum Slevin, VP and head of studio operations Lucasfilm Animation, oversees ILM Singapore from San Francisco. Xavier Nicolas runs the facility locally.

Lucasfilm opened its Singapore branch, its first satellite, five years ago. Animation on Cartoon Network’s “Clone Wars” skein is done out of Lucasfilm’s Singapore branch and the company plans to move that division into feature animation.

ILM Singapore did some animation on Paramount’s upcoming “Rango.”

Increasingly, staffing at that office is focusing on experienced artists, including veterans from California and other global vfx hubs.

Chau cited ease of immigration and quality of life as major draws for Lucasfilm artists moving there.

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