george lucas star wars sets

When George Lucas first filmed the original Star Wars in 1976, he was limited to the technology available at the time — practical effects, sets, and his own visual effects company that he had formed the year before. Star Wars, now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, was filmed on a small budget compared to the big-budget spectacles of the modern Star Wars franchise.

But under the ownership of Disney — which recently boosted its stock a ton thanks to the historic Fox deal — Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has a significantly bigger sandbox to play in than Lucas did 40 years ago. That means more effects, more locations, and a lot of new sets. Maybe too many sets, according to Lucas.

The original script of Star Wars: The Last Jedi called for a whopping 160 sets, according to The Hollywood Reporter, more than could feasibly be made even under massive entertainment studios like Disney/Lucasfilm.

“A ridiculous amount of sets,” said Last Jedi production designer Rick Heinrichs, who was able to settle the number of sets with Johnson, decreasing the number to 125 sets on 14 stages at London’s Pinewood Studios.

But that’s still a vast number of sets, and definitely too many for Lucas — who came to rely heavily on green screen stages during production of his Star Wars prequel films in the early 2000s. The Force Awakens was an intentional return to the practical effects of the original trilogy, in part because of the blowback against Lucas’ CGI-heavy prequels. And Johnson, an old school Star Wars fan, happily followed the same path.

But Lucas didn’t seem that impressed when he visited The Last Jedi set during production, according to Heinrichs’ interview with THR:

“We went into Star Wars saying we’re going to do matte paintings and we’re going to be hanging miniatures. That’s the way we’re going to do this cause that’s what George would want. And of course George visited and he’s like, ‘Why are you building all these sets?’ ‘Well, because that’s what you like, isn’t it?’ He’s a cranky guy but his point is that for the big stuff, obviously planets, spaceships flying, when you’re not close enough to see actors in it, there isn’t much point anymore in actually building something.”

That was about as much creative input Lucas was able to give to the new trilogy, after Disney scrapped his plans in favor of what would become The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. But it sounds like his “cranky” advice to Heinrichs’ didn’t feed into his final reaction to the film, which he told Johnson was “beautifully made.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15, 2017.

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