Skywalker Ranch is a movie ranch and workplace of film director, writer and producer George Lucas located in a secluded, yet open area near Nicasio, California, in Marin County. The ranch is located on Lucas Valley Road, named for an early-20th-century landowner in the area, no relation to George Lucas. The Ranch is not open to the public and keeps a low profile from the road. A gated road leads to the ranch.
The principal operation of the facility is as a motion picture sound mixing and recording facility, as well as serving as the corporate offices of Lucasfilm. Other Lucasfilm properties provide animation and visual effects; Skywalker handles sound, music, and allied services.
Assembled parcel by parcel since September 1978, Skywalker Ranch has cost Lucas up to US$100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lucasfilm acquired 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) of adjoining land for a total of over 4,700 acres (1,900 ha). Only 15 acres (6.1 ha) have been developed. The residents of the area have for 25 years fought his plan to build a larger studio on the property, citing light and noise pollution.
The Ranch contains a barn with animals, vineyards, a garden with fruits and vegetables used in the on-site restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center with racquetball courts, the man-made "Ewok Lake", a hilltop observatory, a 300-seat theater called "The Stag" as well as multiple theater screening rooms, and parking that is mostly concealed underground to preserve the natural landscape. Skywalker Sound was moved onto the ranch in 1987, now occupying the Technical Building. The Main House has a company research library under a stained-glass dome. Skywalker Ranch has its own fire station; it is part of the Marin County mutual aid system and is often called on to assist firefighters in nearby Marinwood.
Skywalker Ranch is intended to be more of a "filmmaker's retreat" than a headquarters for Lucas's business operations. The headquarters of Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic, and LucasArts are located in Lucas's Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco. The George Lucas Educational Foundation is based at the Ranch. Skywalker Sound remains based at the Ranch, for which Lucasfilm pays a rental fee to George Lucas, who remains the property's owner. Although Lucas maintains his offices there, he does not personally reside at the Ranch. Lucasfilm Games was located at the ranch during the early company years.
Nearby Lucas properties
Big Rock Ranch
Big Rock Ranch is a later Lucasfilm development in Marin county at 3800 Lucas Valley Road adjacent to Skywalker Ranch. The county's planning commission approved this facility in September 1996 and construction was completed in August 2002. However, in November 2004, Lucas announced that the 250 employees of the ranch were to be moved to the Letterman Digital Arts Center.
The ranch comprises 1,061 acres (429 ha), of which 43 acres (17 ha) are developed with 317,000 sq ft (29,500 m2) of office space. Before the move to the Presidio in 2005, Big Rock Ranch housed the marketing, licensing, distribution and online divisions of Lucasfilm. As of 2007[update] it was the headquarters of the animation division. In 2018, Big Rock Ranch was renovated into an opulent, 56-room resort called "Summit at Skywalker Ranch". The facility hosts exclusive corporate retreat events.
Starting in 1988, Lucasfilm sought approval to develop another nearby property called Grady Ranch at 2400 Lucas Valley Road. The most recent proposals called for a 263,701-square-foot (24,498.6 m2) digital film production center for the property. However, in the wake of delays caused by local resistance and environmental concerns, Lucas abandoned these plans in April 2012 and has instead decided to sell the land.
The 2009 comedy film Fanboys is the story of five Star Wars fans on their quest to break into Skywalker Ranch and watch a rough cut of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace before its official release.
The Ranch hosted Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell for interviews for The Power of Myth documentary in the late 1980s. Campbell's works were influential to George Lucas in creating the Star Wars universe. Years later, Moyers returned to the Ranch to interview Lucas for a documentary titled The Mythology of Star Wars around the time Episode I was in production.
The ranch was featured in an episode of The Big Bang Theory (Season 8: The Skywalker Incursion) where Leonard and Sheldon tried to gain access in order to see the ranch for themselves. They are stopped at the guard post, but Sheldon breaks free and they are detained.
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- Official website
- Virtual Tour of the Stag Theater
- Regular land map of Skywalker Ranch: from The Center For Land Use Interpretation
- Google map view centered on the Main House