Lucasfilm abandons controversial studio project

"Star Wars" director George Lucas dropped plans for a new movie studio in Marin County on Tuesday, blaming angry neighbors and government officials for derailing the project.

"We have several opportunities to build the production stages in communities that see us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire, and if we are to stay on schedule we must act on those opportunities," his company Lucasfilm said in a statement.

The company didn't say where it would locate the studio complex.

Marin business and local government leaders called Lucas' move a blow to the county's economy, but neighbors expressed relief.

"It sends a loud and disturbing message to any company coming to Marin," said Cynthia Murray, a former Marin County supervisor who now heads North Bay Leadership Council, which represents employers in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties.

The Lucas project "would be welcome any other place in the world," she said. The council supported Lucasfilm's plan.

Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, which led opposition to the project, released a short statement saying it was surprised by the announcement.

"There were clearly many factors involved in making this decision," the association said. "We are sure that it was made with consideration for what is best for Lucasfilm."

Association director Hillary Sciarillo said the group wouldn't object to a Lucasfilm development closer to Highway 101.

In February, the association said more studies were needed to address traffic, noise and wildlife impacts.

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