Clare Sidoti Managing Editor
The Star Wars universe is filled with interesting and exotic locales. From Tatooine’s desert planet with two suns to the forest moon of Endor through to the ice planet of Hoth and the planet of fiery volcanic planet of Mustafar, each place is unique and yet with a touch of the familiar. While we know that the majority of the filming for the first of the new Star Wars trilogy will be taking place at the UK’s Pinewood Studios, the race is on to find the other locations that will make up the new worlds of the trilogy. One thing is certain though, it is likely to be far, far away from director, J.J. Abrams’, Bad Robot headquarters and his home in Los Angeles.
While there have been recent rumbles that Abrams is wanting the production to be more centred around his LA base, his partner and Episode 7 producer, Bryan Burk, has confirmed that the movie will be shooting abroad. However, that decision has not come about without significant work trying to work out if shooting locally might not be possible, especially given their recent experiences of shooting Super 8 and the two most recent Star Trek films in California. He stated that “we had wonderful experiences everywhere we shot and L.A. is our home”, but understands that he has to “factor in crews, studios and the best place to recoup incentives that are available”. After all, making movies is still a business.
And everyone is trying to entice the production to shoot in their backyard. The UK Chancellor, George Osborne, is pushing for the use of other UK locations and Albuquerque Studios president, Gary Arnold, has disclosed that there have been discussions about filming taking place in his facility’s home state of New Mexico. There have also been rumours of location scouting in Iceland, Jordan, Scotland and Ireland. That is not that surprising since previous locations for the earlier six films have included Tunisia, Norway, Italy, Australia, and the US.
Landing the Star Wars juggernaut is a major coup for any location, and Arnold believes that “every location and facility across the globe and every state in the U.S. must be offering the moon and stars. And they’re all willing to offer things on a one-shot basis, everything they can imagine the producers might want, just to say they got the new ‘Star Wars’ shoot. That din is probably the first challenge facing any location or facility that wants to be seriously considered”. However, one industry insider told Variety that given the amount of money and incentives that the UK can throw at Disney to secure the production, they don’t know how they could be turned down.
However, given the films are set in “a galaxy far, far away”, none of the locales will be easily identifiable no matter where they film. This means that it is unlikely that the tourist dollar will be impacted by the shoot as with so many other films (think Salzburg and The Sound of Music or Bruges with In Bruges) as “identifiable locales are what drives tourism”, according to Arnold. Somehow I doubt that this will be of that much concern to the locations.