George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic to open Sydney operation

The world’s best known special effects company Industrial Light & Magic is to offer an Australian outpost.

A 10% tax incentive for the post, digital and VFX (PDV) sector has sealed the deal on the opening of a Sydney arm for the George Lucas-founded ILM.

The tax subsidy was introduced by the Berejiklian government for NSW as a last minute push to cement ILM’s move and can be accessed by filmmakers who commit to spending over $500,000 on PDV in NSW. It matches incentives offered in South Australia and Queensland.

ILM is expected to deliver $333m in post production business in the first five years and $100m each year after.

“This decision helps achieve the NSW Government’s vision of creating great jobs in great places. It is a fantastic boost for the NSW film, television and streaming industries which increases global competitiveness, helps retain the best talent and creates jobs,” said Minister for Jobs and Investment Stuart Ayres.

“NSW as a technology focused and services driven economy is a natural fit for investment in and support of the film and PDV industries. We look forward to seeing more jobs, investment and projects being located in NSW,” Ayres said.

It’s thought ILM, which is owned by Disney, will establish a studio at Fox Studios. It will be the fifth office for the company, which also has outposts in San Francisco, Vancouver, London and Singapore.

ILM was founded by Star Wars creator Lucas in 1975 and has gone on to become the world’s most celebrated visual effects company. As well as the Star Wars, Star Trek and Marvel series, ILM has  worked on dozens of big budget movies including Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Total Recall, Ghost, Terminator 2, Schindler’s List, Jumanji, Titanic and Jurassic World.

“Already nearly 60 per cent of the country’s screen practitioners and more than half of the country’s production and post-production businesses call NSW home. We’re committed to keeping up our competitive edge to secure major investment that will continue to drive the creation of these highly-technical jobs across our local creative industries,” Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said.

“Furthermore, I’m delighted that confirming this incentive has allowed us to sign with Warner Bros. for post-production on the upcoming Untitled Baz Luhrmann Elvis Project, which anticipates injecting up to $35m into the State,” Harwin said.

Luhrmann’s Elvis Project will be shot in Queensland and is expected to bring $105m into the state’s economy.

ILM’s Singapore office is headed up by Australian Luke Hetherington, who has been in Sydney to begin arrangements for the new studio. Hetherington was previously head of film VFX at Animal Logic. His credits include Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Avengers Infinity War.

ILM was acquired by Disney in 2012 as part of the purchase of Lucasfilm.


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