Lucasfilm to shut Singapore operations, affecting more than 300 employees
Lucasfilm is shutting its visual effects and animation studio in Singapore due to economic factors affecting the industry, says parent company Disney.
SINGAPORE: Lucasfilm is winding down operations in Singapore after nearly 20 years in the country, with parent company Disney citing economic factors affecting the industry.
Lucasfilm's visual effects and animation studio, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), has more than 300 employees in Singapore.
The studio has been operating since 2006. It was founded as Lucasfilm Animation Singapore in 2004 to work on the animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
In 2013, Lucasfilm moved into the state-of-the-art Sandcrawler building, named after the classic Star Wars transport that inspired its design. Located in Fusionopolis, the nine-storey building houses a 100-seat theatre and production facilities that cater to the company's global production needs.
The building, which also houses Disney’s offices for Southeast Asia, was sold to the Blackstone Group in January 2021.
"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 told CNA on Tuesday (Aug 15).
"ILM is giving employees as much notice as possible and offering opportunities to relocate to one of the company’s growing studios."
Aside from Singapore and its headquarters in San Francisco, ILM also has studios in Vancouver, London, Sydney and Mumbai.
"ILM will be working with the local business community in Singapore to offer a job fair with companies identified as having a need for talent with similar skill sets," Disney added.
According to an ILM employee in Singapore, there are 340 staff members in the company and work will continue until the end of the year.
He told CNA that work has been affected by the ongoing Screen Actors Guild strike in the United States calling for higher pay and limits on the use of artificial intelligence.
DISRUPTION IN MEDIA INDUSTRY
Walt Disney earlier this year announced a sweeping restructuring under recently reinstated CEO Bob Iger, cutting 7,000 jobs or about 3.6 per cent of the company's global workforce.
It is part of an effort to save US$5.5 billion in costs and make Disney's streaming business profitable.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said Lucasfilm and the relevant government agencies are helping affected employees to find roles in other companies.
"The technical and creative skillsets of these employees - who are trained across roles such as designers, tech engineers and tech support staff - continue to be in high demand, both within the broader media industry and also in other industries that are going digital," said EDB and IMDA.
They noted that Lucasfilm has helped Singapore develop world-class digital animation talent through knowledge and skills transfer.
"Our Singaporean talent have worked alongside and learned from experienced producers, enabling them to develop their skills and play on the world stage. We are proud that Singaporeans have worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as Jurassic World: Dominion and Marvel’s The Eternals," the agencies said.
They noted that the global media industry is facing disruption from rapid technological advancements, while studios are coping with challenges relating to talent and profitability.
"While the global media industry undergoes transformation, Singapore remains a valuable and attractive hub for global media companies that are committed to growing a competitive and innovative ecosystem," said EDB and IMDA.
Media companies here have adopted new tools such as virtual production technology, they noted, adding that polytechnics and institutes of higher learning have also emphasised broader digital and tech skills training for students in recent years, allowing them to seize new job opportunities in areas such as game development.