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There’s always been a strong English presence in the Star Wars franchise. Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels and David Prowse have each played pivotal roles in making the series so popular. And it’s now been confirmed that Star Wars’ English connection is only set to grow after producer Kathleen Kennedy announced the opening of Industrial Light & Magic’s London base.
Kennedy, who also confirmed that Stars Wars: Episode VII is just three weeks away from completion, officially opened the studio on Wednesday evening at its Soho location. During her speech at the event, Kennedy confirmed that there is no end in sight to Star Wars’ English connection too, and she even hinted that further instalments to the franchise will also be shot in the city.
This continues a long tradition of Star Wars movies being made in London. It goes back to 1976, and to know that we are now coming back and we will be making the movies once again based out of Pinewood, and now we're looking to put together this studio, it's rather remarkable that this has all come together in less than two years."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kathleen Kennedy, who is the president of Lucasfilm, was joined at the ceremony to mark its opening by Lynwen Brennan, Industrial Light & Magic’s president and general manager, as well as the UK culture secretary, Ed Vaizey, and UK chancellor, George Osborne.
Lynwen Brennan then added to Kathleen Kennedy’s comments with her own remarks, which outlined how London will be used to help expand the studio’s "global footprint."
London’s fantastic visual effects industry and rich talent pool made it an ideal location to expand our global footprint. Our clients have come to rely on us being able to provide not only top-tier talent, but flexibility in determining how and where their effects work will be done."
By the sound of things Industrial Light & Magic London is already churning out some pretty impressive pieces of work too. According to Sue Lyster, who is the director of operations at the facility, they are currently working on the special effects for Star Wars: Episode VII, Ant-Man, and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, each of which are little films that you’ve probably heard a bit about over the last few months. I’m guessing that they’ll just about crack the top 10 at the box office when they’re released over the next few years too. Maybe.
Of course the cast and crew for Star Wars: Episode VII made themselves at home in England quite a few months ago. The seventh instalment to the franchise is still in production at Pinewood Studios, which is located just outside of the English capital, and the likes of Adam Driver, Oscar Isaacs, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and JJ Abrams are now probably BFFs with at least Prince William or Prince Harry. Pinewood has become a popular filming destination for studios over the last few years, with Marvel especially using the location to shoot a number of its blockbusters. Who said the British Empire was dead?