George Lucas’ former Bay Area film studio to shut down

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FILE: Filmmaker George Lucas arrives at the premiere of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” on May 10, 2018, in Hollywood, Calif.

FILE: Filmmaker George Lucas arrives at the premiere of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” on May 10, 2018, in Hollywood, Calif.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

A film studio in Marin County originally used by director George Lucas is shutting down due to a lack of business.

The studio in San Rafael was once home to Industrial Light and Magic, a visual effects company founded by Lucas in 1975. It’s now occupied by production company 32Ten Studios, whose CEO, Tim Partridge, said that a lack of business after the pandemic, coupled with the effects of the film industry strikes in Hollywood, has made running the company unsustainable. 32Ten specializes in making miniature models for practical effects in movies, a practice that has dwindled over the past several years, according to Partridge. 

“We’ve had no work now for several months. You just can’t afford to keep going,” Partridge said. 

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The studio on Kerner Boulevard has a storied history in the film world: Lucas moved Industrial Light and Magic to the location from Van Nuys in 1978 following the success of the first “Star Wars” film. He then moved the company to the Presidio in 2005, but before that, the San Rafael studio saw the production of props used in other “Star Wars” movies, along with “Indiana Jones” films and other classics.  

This studio in San Rafael houses 32Ten Studios and was once home to George Lucas’ production company, Industrial Light and Magic. 

This studio in San Rafael houses 32Ten Studios and was once home to George Lucas’ production company, Industrial Light and Magic. 

Screenshot via Google Maps

32Ten took over the studio in 2012, Partridge said. He added that despite the building’s history, if it isn’t preserved as a film studio, it’s likely to be used for something else entirely after his company leaves.

Several community members, including an employee of 32Ten, want to see that it’s kept in the business. “There’s a lot of people in the community that want to keep the building available for film use. It has the biggest soundstage in the area, so it’s a great resource. And with the history of everything that was done in the building, it would obviously be a shame to lose that,” Partridge said. 

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A number of people are hoping to bring local film companies on board to lease out the building, Partridge said. One person intent on preserving the studio is 32Ten’s expert model maker, Sean House. 

“Sean is passionate about the business and about the history of what has gone on in those buildings, so he’s trying to find like-minded people to keep the buildings in the business,” Partridge said. 

House is in the process of creating a GoFundMe campaign to aid his effort, he told ABC7. Partridge said the plan also hinges on the building’s current owner. 

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