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"This place is the Holy Grail for them. And, you know, we actually have a few Holy Grails here."
―Noah Skinner (a member of the Skywalker Ranch Fire Brigade) on fans' fascination with the ranch[1]
SkywalkerRanch-TCSBRBD1

An aerial view of the ranch

Skywalker Ranch is the name of the workplace of film director and producer George Lucas in secluded but open country near Nicasio, California in Marin County. The ranch is located on Lucas Valley Road, although Lucas is not related to the road's namesake, a turn-of-the-century landowner in the area. The Ranch is not open to the public and keeps a low profile from the road.[2]

Before the 1800s, the land that would one day house Skywalker Ranch was home to the Coast Miwok Tribe. The fact that "Miwok" rhymes with "Ewok" has led to speculation on whether the Ewoks—being an isolated civilization that was under threat by a colonial power, in their case the Galactic Empire—were inspired by the struggles of indigenous peoples.[3] George Lucas has confirmed the connection was intentional.[4] Miwok tribe member Lucina Thomas-Vidauri spoke fondly of this possible connection to Star Wars Insider, saying that she hopes Star Wars fans will learn more about her culture thanks to the connection.[3] Assembled parcel by parcel since September 1978,[5] Skywalker Ranch has cost Lucas up to US$100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. After neighboring ranchers complained that Skywalker Ranch was polluting the environment, Lucasfilm acquired 3,000 acres (12 km²) of adjoining land for a total of over 4,700 acres (19 km²). Only 15 acres (60,000 m²) have been developed.[6]

SkywalkerRanchMainHouse

The main house at Skywalker Ranch

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 "Lake Ewok", 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.[7] Skywalker Sound was moved onto the ranch in 1987, now occupying the Technical Building.[8] The Main House has a company research library under a stained-glass dome.[2] Skywalker Ranch has its own fire station, which is part of the Marin County Mutual Aid system, and is often called on to assist firefighters in nearby Marinwood.[2] Lucas also created a fictional backstory for the ranch, in which it "was once owned by an old sea captain".[9] In 2007, Marin County gave Lucas permission to add two more screening rooms and a bridge across Bull Tail Creek.[6]

The Main House has a safe where legal tablets with Lucas's Star Wars notes are kept. Under its foundation is a time capsule (buried in 1981) that contains Lucas's attorney's letter confirming the agreement with 20th Century-Fox. A barn next to a horse corral houses props, scale models, costumes and artwork from the Star Wars movies, including lightsaber hilts, Luke's landspeeder and the carbonite slab. Another building houses storyboards, concept art and other illustrations.[10]

Lucas, who based his Star Wars films on the scholarship of Joseph Campbell, was involved in the creation of the 1988 documentary which explored Campbell's works of The Power of Myth. The series of six, one-hour interviews between Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers was filmed at Skywalker Ranch.[11] In the first episode, Moyers discusses Campbell's friendship with Lucas and the impact of his scholarship on Lucas' Star Wars films (Episodes IV, V, and VI).[12]

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.[7] Lucas does not live on the Ranch.[2]

In an episode of the Netflix series The Chef Show, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni prepared various foods at Skywalker Ranch.[source?]

After the release of the 2005 film Revenge of the Sith, Hayden Christensen, the actor who played Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy, made visits to the Ranch and was motivated by the "sense of peace and escape" he felt. He then took a break from Hollywood in general and bought a farm in the Canadian countryside.[13]

Big Rock Ranch[]

Big Rock Ranch is a later Lucasfilm development in Marin county on Lucas Valley Road adjacent to Skywalker Ranch. The county's planning commission approved this facility in September 1996[14] and construction was completed in August 2002.[15] However in November 2004, Lucas announced that the 250 employees of the ranch were to be moved to the Letterman Digital Arts Center.[16]

The ranch comprises 1061 acres (4.3 km²), of which 43 acres (17 hectares) are developed with 317,000 ft² (29,500 m²) of office space.[15] Before the Presidio move in 2005, Big Rock Ranch housed the marketing, licensing, distribution and online divisions of Lucasfilm.[16] It is currently the headquarters of the animation division as of 2007.[17]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

  1. The Secrets of Skywalker by Geoff Boucher & Gregg Segal on Los Angeles Times (archived from the original on January 20, 2015)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Skywalker Ranch: George Lucas creates a magic world in real life by Jeff Strickler on Star Tribune (May 18, 2002) (archived from the original on October 10, 2007)
  3. 3.0 3.1 SWInsider "Stewards of the Forest Moon" — Star Wars Insider 212
  4. Jeffrey Miller. Where There's Life, There's Lawsuits: Not Altogether Serious Ruminations on Law and Life. ECW Press, 2003. English. ISBN 1550225014. "I took the end of Wookiee, the 'ie' of Wookiee, and put it at the head, like Pig Latin, and then started, when I said it phonetically, it sounded like Ewok which is very similar to Miwok which is the Indians that sort of inhabited the area where I live and where my studio is. Matter of fact, there was a Miwok village just outside my office. So I thought that was a nice, nice sort of reverberation of the idea and eventually took the 'i' and one of the 'os' out and it was Ewok." (web archive)
  5. 'Star Wars' Timeline by Jeff Labrecque on Entertainment Weekly (May 10, 2005) (archived from the original on August 6, 2019)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lucas can build additions, bridge on Skywalker ranch on Marin Independent Journal (March 31, 2007) (content now obsolete; archived from the original on September 29, 2007)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Inside the secure world of Skywalker Ranch by William Arnold on Seattle Post-Intelligencer (May 12, 2005) (archived from the original on October 15, 2012)
  8. Skywalker Sound: History on Skywalker Sound (archived from the original on January 14, 2019)
  9. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by Richard B. Woodward on The New York Times (May 21, 1989) (archived from the original on April 3, 2015)
  10. The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
  11. Remembering a Master Mythologist and His Connection to Santa Barbara by Tom Jacobs on Santa Barbara News-Press (March 24, 2004) (archived from the original on June 17, 2004).
  12. TVcom logo The Hero's Adventure on TV.com (backup link)
  13. Inside the 17-year journey to reunite Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen for Obi-Wan Kenobi by Dalton Ross on Entertainment Weekly (March 10, 2022) (archived from the original on March 10, 2022)
  14. Lucasfilm, Ltd. Master Plan and Use Permit with construction by Lucasfilm, Ltd. on County of Marin (September 25, 1996) (content now obsolete; archived from the original on July 4, 2003)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Big Rock Ranch Project on CMA (content now obsolete; archived from the original on October 15, 2002)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Lucasfilm to transfer much of its workforce by Jim Kravets on Point Reyes Light (November 24, 2004) (content now obsolete; archived from the original on November 28, 2004)
  17. StarWars Clone Wars at the Ranch on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link)

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