Industrial Light & Magic, the Disney-owned special effects studio, has opened its new offices in London ahead of starting post-production work on Star Wars Episode VII.

The company, founded by George Lucas in 1975, was behind the groundbreaking visual effects of the original Star Wars trilogy and will once more be responsible for the VFX work on the new slate of Star Wars films being made in the UK.

"This continues a long tradition of Star Wars movies being made in London that goes back to 1976," said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, the company producing the new Star Wars films.

"To know that we are coming back into London, and we will be making the movies once again based out of Pinewood, and now putting together this studio [ILM London], is rather remarkable to all come together in less than two years," she added.

The new Star Wars films were brought back to the UK after intensive discussions between Lucasfilm and the UK government. Chancellor George Osborne heralded the launch of ILM London as another example of the country's burgeoning creative industries.

"There is a real buzz about our creative industries at the moment and I'd like to think that the government has had a part to play in that with our film tax breaks, new video game support, special effects and animation," he said.

This continues a long tradition of Star Wars movies being made in London that goes back to 1976.
Kathleen Kennedy

Film productions in the UK are legible for tax relief of up to 25% on the first £20m and 20% after that. Since the tax relief was introduced in 2007, Disney has been handed nearly £170m by the UK taxman in return for agreeing to make films in Britain.

The new London studio will employ around 200 people, led by creative director Ben Morris, who was previously involved in the special effects work on Gravity and War Horse at fellow London-based VFX studio Framestore.

"There's so many filmmakers who want to work in the UK and the whole film industry is growing and booming. ILM coming in is just going to enrich that community," Morris told IBTimes UK.

"I think the time was right, the stars have aligned, and ILM has chosen to come to London. It's quite honestly a dream come true."

As well as the new Star Wars movies, the London facility is also working on the two Marvel Studios films, Ant-Man and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, both of which are set for release in 2015.