The other day we announced that Disney, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Fox are releasing all six Star Wars films—from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi — on Digital HD this Friday, April 10th across multiple platforms. And perhaps most exciting of all, each digital release is accompanied by two new, never-before-seen bonus features: Star Wars: Discoveries from Inside, which reveals a behind-the-scenes at the technical elements of the Star Wars films and Conversations, which involves sit-downs between key contributors from across the entire franchise, as well as a collection of classic Star Wars extras from each film.
In anticipation of the Digital HD release, Disney sent a list of Star Wars fun facts our way, and we’re passing it on to you! Compiled from information learned in the bonus features, the list includes lots of technical trivia and highlights the innovative low-tech approach used in the first trilogy. It makes for an interesting contrast to the lavish digital effects employed in the later films once you get to the second half of the list. Check out the Star Wars trivia below. You can also get a first look at the new bonus material by watching our exclusive clip here.
STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE
- Despite being a big-budget blockbuster, the creative team often built props as economically as possible. For example, the pod that C-3PO and R2-D2 use to escape in Star Wars: A New Hope was created from two paint buckets. It was only used in two shots in the movie.
- Look closely at the asteroids in A New Hope. The creative team was criticized that their asteroid designs resembled potatoes – but if you look in the far distance during Millennium Falcon chase scenes of A New Hope, real potatoes were actually used!
- Archivists at Lucasfilm recently discovered the original lightsaber prop from Star Wars: Episode IV. You can see the discovery in all its glory in the bonus extras from the new digital release, Star Wars: The Digital Collection. What else will you discover with the new extras? Between 1975 and 1978, Charles Lippincott interviewed the cast and crew of Star Wars: A New Hope. These tapes remained lost for 40 years… Until now! You can hear excerpts from the tapes in the exclusive extras for the new digital release.
STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
- If Anthony Daniels fell over in his C-3PO costume, he couldn’t get up on his own. The costume wasn’t very flexible at all. In fact, the actor couldn’t sit down whilst wearing it. Whenever you see C-3PO sitting in The Empire Strikes Back, either you don’t see below the waist or Anthony would sit down on set without the costume and they would build it up around him.
- Which everyday kitchen item was used to create the sound of C-3PO moving in the early movies? According to Ben Burtt, it was a couple of ice-cube trays being bashed around.
- Harrison Ellenshaw – Matte Painting Supervisor for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back – is no stranger to Disney. Harrison is the son of Peter Ellenshaw, who was a matte painter for Disney for many, many years. Peter worked on iconic movies including Mary Poppins, Bedknobs And Broomsticks and Swiss Family Robinson – and he was named a Disney Legend in 1993. Harrison can be seen talking about the use of matte paintings in the Star Wars saga in the bonus extras for the new digital release, Star Wars: The Digital Collection.
STAR WARS: THE RETURN OF THE JEDI
- The iconic shot of Han Solo breaking out of the carbonite block was an interesting challenge for the movie’s special effects team. The crew made a wax figure of Harrison Ford and shone a bright light behind it for part of the epic transformation.
- It was a huge task to move the mammoth life-size puppet of Jabba The Hutt on the set of Star Wars: The Return Of The Jedi. The special effects team had to stand behind and inside the character in order to try and make him move as realistically as possible. There’s a crewmember in the tail of Jabba, along with two crewmembers on remote controls, which were used to move the tongue and the eyes of the behemoth character.
- The sand dune backgrounds for the scenes in which Jabba The Hutt’s barge heads to the Sarlacc Pit were all shot in Yuma, Arizona. When the background scenes were being shot, a sound crew was sent into the dunes – but the main thing they captured was sand in their equipment due to the high winds in the area! Instead, the sound crew headed off to a local naval air station where they recorded jets landing and taking off. These sounds became the basis for a lot of the speeder bikes seen later in the movie.
- Anakin Skywalker’s Podracer in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was created from an interesting collection of vehicles and props. The front of the shuttle, in which Anakin sits, was made from the shell of a 1960’s racing car called a Maserati Birdcage.
- It took three to four months to create many of the intricate and lavish costumes worn by Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala. Much of the fine detailing was hand stitched to couture levels by a talented wardrobe team.
- In total, a team of 45 animators worked on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The team created more than 60 digital characters, including Jar Jar Binks. A crew of 15 animators worked solely on the iconic Gungan from the planet Naboo.
STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE
STAR WARS: ATTACK OF THE CLONES
- Look carefully at the head statues in the Jedi Archives that Obi-Wan visits in Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones. The busts are sculpted in the shape of some very famous Star Wars faces including George Lucas, animation director Rob Coleman, model supervisor Brian Gernand and visual effects supervisors Pablo Helman and John Knoll.
- C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels makes a cameo appearance in the movie’s club scene behind Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker. Daniels is not in his C-3PO outfit for the shot, but the actor’s face is clear to see. Can you spot him?
- The calm Kaminoan race appears briefly in Attack Of The Clones. They are a very graceful and serene alien race – but they were completely CG in the movie. Fashion models and the elegance of tai chi inspired the movie’s animators in creating Kaminoan characters Taun We and Lama Su.
STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH
- In total, 72 sets created for Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith. The largest set was the stage where Anakin Skywalker has an epic lightsaber battle with Count Dooku [played by Christopher Lee in the movie].
- Christopher Lee wasn’t on set when the fight scene between Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker was shot. A stunt man performed the fighting choreography and his face was replaced with Lee’s. In other parts of the scene, a completely digital Count Dooku was used, too.
- Adding a mechanical arm to Hayden Christensen’s body in the movie’s bedroom scene was an interesting challenge for the Star Wars special effects team. During the filming of the shirtless scene, Christensen wore a blue glove on set. The special effects crew later replaced the glove with a computer-generated robotic arm for the finished film.
- George Lucas and his two daughters make a cameo appearance in the hallway of the movie’s elegant opera scene. George’s daughters refused to appear in the movie unless their father joined them. In the finished film footage, the director has a blue face and can be spotted talking to his younger daughter. His oldest daughter is in the center of the hallway as Anakin Skywalker runs past.
The complete Star Wars saga arrives on Digital HD April 10th.