George Lucas' former Marin studio closing, some employees vow to save it

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, September 15, 2023
George Lucas' former Marin studio closing
The original soundstage and production facility in San Rafael for Industrial Light and Magic, founded by George Lucas, is going away.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, it's the end of an era of movie-making magic.

The original soundstage and production facility in San Rafael for Industrial Light and Magic, founded by George Lucas, is going away. Lucas moved his campus to the Presidio in San Francisco almost 20 years ago.

The facility's new owners are retiring, but one employee would like to save the studio's history and legacy.

It may be a surprise to know hundreds of other films were created inside the nondescript building on Kerner Blvd. in San Rafael.

"Filmmaking and television changed forever in these facilities," said Sean House.

MORE: Disney+ series 'Light & Magic' takes us into George Lucas' world

When it comes to special effects in movies, the folks at Industrial Light & Magic are considered superstars. The story of how this company came to life is being played out in a new six-episode series.

Now home to 32TEN Studios, this is the former campus of Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic.

"Right after the success of 'Star Wars,' George Lucas wanted to remove himself from the Hollywood system, so he moved the ILM shop from Van Nuys up here," said House.

House is a longtime model shop supervisor, and says many props and models from movies are still there. That includes the Millennium Falcon, an anchor from "Pirates of the Caribbean," even a model of Chewbacca's head.

Lucas relocated his campus to the Presidio in 2005 and he took the original door with him, which is now on display.

After a decade, the studio's new owners are calling it quits. They told ABC7 News in a statement:

"32Ten is simply going out of business due to adverse business conditions including the declining use of miniature practical effects in film production, and also the halt in production due to the Hollywood strikes."

House says the landlord plans to repurpose the building.

"My feeling is, it's a travesty this is a historic place, it's a tragedy for the Bay Area film community," said House.

ABC7 News reached out to the building's owner but haven't heard back. House says he's launching a campaign to save the campus to continue its filmmaking legacy.

"We are in the process of setting up a GoFundMe," said House.

One of the biggest gems of the property is this original THX theater where the theater sound system was born and speakers are still on the wall.

House is hoping to preserve all the history.

"I would encourage the people who do care about this place and about film to show their support for the continuation of this facility," he said.

Disney is the parent company of Lucasfilm and this station.

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