The visual effects company created by George Lucas for the original "Star Wars" has opened a permanent Vancouver studio, which will have a hand in the highly anticipated Episode 7.
Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) officially opened the Gastown office Monday, a 30,000 sq.-ft. space vacated by Disney's Pixar just six months ago. That closure cut 100 jobs, but ILM executives are confident there's enough work to keep the Vancouver studio busy into the next decade, reported Metro Vancouver.
"It’s a very cyclical business,” said Lynwen Brennan, president of ILM. "We have 10 years of work we can see ahead and, while we’ll still have a little bit of ups and downs, that is something that allows us to stay more stable than most in the business."
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ILM tested the B.C. waters with a satellite office in 2011 — which worked on "Pacific Rim," "The Lone Ranger" and the upcoming "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" — and soon felt confident enough to expand. It expects to grow its current Vancouver workforce from 133 to about 200 permanent and contract staff by summer.
“Our experience in Vancouver has been wonderful with the remarkable talent the studio has attracted and the incredible imagery they have been able to create, we saw a tremendous benefit to giving this studio a permanent place in our global operations," she said in a news release.
The Vancouver staff is currently working on "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." After that, they'll be tackling some big blockbusters including the upcoming "Star Wars" movies, "Jurassic World," "Warcraft," and "Tomorrowland."
Brennan told The Vancouver Sun that the Canadian dollar and provincial tax credits have no bearing on how long ILM remains in the city: "Our leading tenet is talent and it is not about economics.”
ILM is located at 21 Water St., a Vancouver heritage building known as The Packing House that was built in 1912. ILM also has studios in San Francisco, Singapore and London.
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