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Lucasfilm opens Singapore 'Sandcrawler' production facility


US entertainment giant Lucasfilm inaugurated its first overseas production complex on Thursday in Singapore, which will tap Asian talent to support future "Star Wars" movies and other projects.

Founder George Lucas and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attended the opening of the seven-storey building -- called "Sandcrawler" after a large treaded vehicle in the original "Star Wars" movie -- in a high-tech industrial park.

The new building will also house sports broadcaster ESPN Asia-Pacific as well as the Southeast Asian operations of Walt Disney, which acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.

Singapore has been positioning itself as a digital media hub, offering advanced technical infrastructure as well as liberal immigration policies for employees of companies like Lucasfilm.

Lucas admitted in a speech that his colleagues were initially skeptical about establishing their first overseas facility, which started out in rented premises in 2005 in suburban Singapore.

But as the production centre was given more work, it came to be regarded as the equal of the California main studio.

"That's more important than the Academy Award as far as I am concerned," Lucas said.

Lucasfilm Singapore was involved in animated feature film "Rango" as well as the television series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars".

The Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) visual effects team in Singapore in turn contributed to blockbuster franchises like "Transformers", "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Iron Man" and "The Avengers".

Lucasfilm is planning to release "Star Wars: Episode 7" in 2015.