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Skywalker Ranch is a movie ranch and workplace of film director 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, although Lucas is not related to the road's namesake, who was 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. A gated road leads to the ranch.
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 (12 km²) of adjoining land for a total of over 4,700 acres (19 km²). Only 15 acres (60,000 m²) 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 "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. 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, which 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. Lucas does not live on the 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 1061 acres (4.3 km²), of which 43 acres (17 hectares) 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 and the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
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 steal 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 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 Star Wars: Episode I was in production.
In 2001, Gary Rydstrom and Tom Meyers recorded sound for Monsters,Inc. The 2 sound designers also joined up with 100s of foley artists who made sound effects for the film by using different props.