A Star Wars homecoming (Or why Star Wars is really Singaporean at heart)

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…” is probably the most famous line in all of movie history. It is the first of the now legendary narrative we see in Star Wars: A New Hope, a science fiction movie concocted by film auteur George Lucas, that spawned multigenerational fans, billion-dollar merchandising and changed the way we watched and made movies — particularly of the science fiction genre.

It is also the line that distanced fans not based in the US or the UK. For decades, Asia would have to wait for movies to make its way to our time zone, usually about two weeks. Thankfully, this was before social media and waiting a fortnight was bearable, if only just. But the world is getting smaller. And the gap to information is closing. These days, we have not only bridged the gap sometimes we’re even ahead. For example, Singaporeans got to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron about a fortnight before the American premiere.

LucasFilm's Singapore campus affectionately named The Sandcrawler.

LucasFilm’s Singapore campus affectionately named The Sandcrawler.

Call me narcissistic but I’d like to think Singapore has become the centre of Asia over the last five decades. Today, Singapore is proud to host one of three LucasFilm campuses — the only one to be based out of the U.S. The building in itself is an icon, designed to look like the humongous Sandcrawler transport used by Jawas, the scavenging alien race seen in A New Hope. Here, talents from all over the world work on mega blockbusters such as the afore-mentioned Avengers movie, the upcoming Jurassic World, a new Transformer chapter as well as the sequel to 2007’s Hitman.

The award-winning animated Star Wars series, The Clone Wars was also produced here.

Award winning animated series The Clone Wars continues from Episode II of the Star Wars movies.

Award winning animated series The Clone Wars continues from Episode II of the Star Wars movies.

LucasFilm also told local media the next generation Star Wars trilogy will also have parts of it produced here, if not fully. The Sandcrawler is also home to The Walt Disney Company, which had bought the rights to the Sci-Fi franchise.

I have my suspicions that the official Star Wars social networks are also run out of our Republic, based on the fact that they mark events based on our timeline — lauding Star Wars Day early this morning even though America has only just started their May 4th celebrations. They’d even muted their logo as a mark of respect when Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed on earlier.

The official Star Wars Facebook account muted its logo in respect of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's passing earlier this year.

The official Star Wars Facebook account muted its logo in respect of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing earlier this year.

Outside of geography, 2015 looks set to be marked the year of Star Wars. It heralded the return of the Star Wars comics to publisher Marvel, after almost 20 years. And to the tune of 1 million direct sales no less — a feat not seen in just as long.

If skeptics had any doubt the franchise could sustain this long, they’d have given up in the 90s. Yet the series grows strong; even though May the Fourth made its rounds in 1979, as a congratulatory note to British PM Margaret Thatcher, it was unofficially adopted as Star Wars Day in 2011 (since then, the holiday celebrated by Star Wars fans all over the world has grown exponentially). Even though May 4th isn’t celebrated here, local fans have made it a point to gather in May to show solidarity to their International brethren.

It is still more than 200 days (228 days to be exact) to the premiere of the new movie, The Force Awakens but fans are already bursting at the seams, lapping up every piece of news leaked or officially announced. Here in Singapore, I’m sure the people who worked on the movie are just dying to tell their loved ones how bomb-bad the movie they’ve been working will be. The gap is ever closing, and as Han Solo said in much applauded trailer…

Chewie... we're home,

Chewie… we’re home.

Welcome home, Star Wars.

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