SINGAPORE: In a move that speaks to the shifting tides of the global entertainment industry, Disney announced on Tuesday (15 Aug) that Lucasfilm is tapering its operations in Singapore to consolidate its global presence in light of prevailing economic conditions.
Having started its journey in Singapore in 2004 as Lucasfilm Animation Singapore, the studio had been instrumental in creating the animated TV series, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”.
Two years later, its visual effects and animation studio, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), began its operations in the city-state.
This decision comes after the sale of its avant-garde establishment, The Sandcrawler in Fusionopolis, to the Blackstone Group early last year.
Besides being Lucasfilm’s hub, the building also accommodated Disney’s Southeast Asian offices.
Disney, in an official statement to CNA, said, “Over the forthcoming months, ILM is set to consolidate its international operations, which includes phasing out its studio in Singapore due to the economic pressures in the industry.”
The company emphasized its commitment to its employees, stating they are giving them considerable notice and offering relocation opportunities to its other burgeoning studios.
ILM, beyond its Singapore and San Francisco bases, also operates out of Vancouver, London, Sydney, and Mumbai.
Collaboratively working with the local business ecosystem in Singapore, Disney has plans to organize a job fair to bridge the talent gap in firms requiring similar expertise.
The Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) jointly noted that Lucasfilm’s decision is a reflection of evolving industry landscapes and business conditions.
Highlighting the challenges studios worldwide are grappling with, they said, “From swift technological progress to obstacles concerning talent retention and profitability, the global media sector is in a state of flux.”
Lucasfilm’s stint in Singapore is hailed for its contributions to digital animation expertise. EDB and IMDA proudly acknowledged that Singaporean professionals have made significant impacts on Hollywood mega hits such as “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Marvel’s The Eternals”.
Both Lucasfilm and governmental agencies are collaboratively working to ensure affected employees transition smoothly into other roles.
EDB and IMDA highlighted, “The multifaceted skills of these employees are highly sought-after, not just in the media sector but also in other industries undergoing digitization.”
In 2005, Lucasfilm’s choice of Singapore as its hub was driven by several factors. George Lucas, in a 2014 statement, commended Singapore’s supportive education initiatives and its efforts to foster a local industry.
Post the 9/11 tragedy, U.S. immigration policies tightened, but Singapore’s liberal stance helped Lucasfilm source global talent effortlessly.
Lucas had also mentioned that while there were other contenders like India, Taiwan, and Japan for expansion, Singapore’s blend of talent, creativity, and quality of life gave it an edge.