Skywalker Ranch is the workplace and retreat of Hollywood director George Lucas. Nestled in the foothills of Marin County, California, the ranch stretches more than 4700 acres (16 m sq.) Despite the fact that Lucas’ most famous hero is named Luke Skywalker, the ranch is actually named for a nearby road of the same name.
George Lucas, the creator of the landmark film series Star Wars and founder of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), built his retreat in his native Northern California, only a few miles from the site of his first film, American Graffiti. Marin County, a wealthy suburban area, is notable for many celebrity residents and its proximity to San Francisco and the Bay Area. It was here that he founded his production company, Lucasfilm, as well as the state of the art sound production studio, Skywalker Sound.
Skywalker Ranch has a mysterious reputation and has spawned considerable conspiracy theories among Lucas fans. Aside from a chosen list, few press and no uninvited guests have ever been allowed onto the property. Some reports claim that security must constantly turn back trespassers, who will sometimes hike miles to try and sneak onto the property. With the release of the latest Indiana Jones film in 2008, buses have arrived at the property carrying hopeful fans, but none have been allowed on the land.
The ranch includes a Victorian style main house, which is used for offices and business and houses a large collection of film memorabilia. In addition to props from Lucas’ own films, the house contains also Charlie Chaplin’s canes and several other historic items. Despite several clusters of buildings, Skywalker Ranch remains primarily undeveloped, with wide spaces conducive to the beautiful landscape and wildlife native to the area.
Skywalker Sound provides much of the celebrity activity on the property, with world class actors and directors coming to the ranch to put final touches on films, record dialogue and oversee the sound mix of movies. To house the visiting stars, the Skywalker Ranch Inn features 26 guest rooms with Hollywood themed décor. Each of the rooms is named for a Hollywood figure admired by Lucas, and decorated to match their lifestyles.
After the stunning success of Star Wars Lucas began plans to build Skywalker Ranch as a Mecca for filmmakers and an escape from the Hollywood life. The ranch would be realized in a grand style, including a 300 seat movie theater used for screenings, a man-made lake, its own fire department, and a historic library and film archive. While the property may remain forever mysterious to all but a few film dignitaries, it certainly gives young filmmakers the ambitious goal to make it big enough to score an invite.