In a further blow to Disney’s already shaky operating health, Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic has announced that “due to economic factors affecting the industry,” the company will be officially closing the doors on Lucasfilm Animation’s Singapore Branch.
Coming twenty-years after the branch was opened this decision was first confirmed on August 15th, courtesy of the House of Mouse themselves.
In a statement sent to Variety on August 15th, a Disney spokesperson explained that “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.”
Given the massive blow Lucasfilm Animation Singapore’s closure will deliver to the eponymous nation’s economy, particularly as they work towards becoming a global entertainment production powerhouse themselves, the Singapore government was, unsurprisingly, disappointed in the move.
In a joint statement, the government’s Economic Development Board and Infocomm Media Development Authority lamented how “Lucasfilm’s decision to wind down its Singapore operations is in response to changes in the industry and business conditions”
“The global media industry is facing disruption from rapid technological advancements, while studios are coping with challenges relating to talent and profitability,” the two agencies explained.
However, regardless of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding this economic setback, the government concluded their statement by praising how “Throughout Lucasfilm’s tenure in Singapore, the company has developed world-class digital animation talent for the industry 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,” the government bodies added. “We are proud that Singaporeans have worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as Jurassic World: Dominion and Marvel’s Eternals. Many have moved on to roles in media companies like Netflix or have gone on to start their own companies. In addition, Lucasfilm’s leaders actively contributed to training generations of students in digital and tech skills at polytechnics and Institutes of Higher Learning.”
Responding to the government’s concerns and praise, ILM Singapore and Sydney boss Luke Hetherington issue his own statement wherein he asserted, “We would like to thank the Singapore Government, industry, and community for their partnership over the past 17 years.”
“We have been able to train and employ a generation of production talent, visual effects artists, and animators,” he continued. “We are very proud of the incredible work the team in Singapore has accomplished and look forward to providing new opportunities for Singapore talent to continue the innovative work they are doing.”
In a particularly insulting detail, it should be noted that the announcement of Lucasfilm Animation Singapore’s closure was made on the same day as the 15th anniversary of their most famous work, the CG-animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series.
Thus, rather than spending the day celebrating their work on one of the last good pieces of Star Wars media, the studio’s over 300 employees are instead being forced to contend with the possibility of unemployment.
However, per Variety, ILM will allegedly be providing employees ample notice regarding their employment status, as well as various opportunities for transfer to one of the company’s respective studios in San Francsico, Vancouver, London, Sydney, or Mumbai.