Chewbacca, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker on their way to the Great Pit of Carkoon

"Building the set at Yuma was an enormous project... Over Thanksgiving holiday when we first erected the fence around the set, there was a reported crowd of 35,000 dune buggy enthusiasts there. We needed to camouflage ourselves from the public and to schedule our shooting to avoid stray dune buggies creeping into a shot in the distance. This wasn't easy because on weekends the buggies covered the surrounding hills like ants."
―Howard Kazanjian[src]

Instead of returning to Tunisia, the filmmakers decided to stay closer to home and go to the sand dunes around Yuma for making Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Buttercup Valley, California[1] was the filming site for the Great Pit of Carkoon sequence on the Dune Sea. Filming took place in April 1982, though construction had taken place over the previous five months.[2] The crew stayed in the nearest town, Yuma, Arizona, while filming, logging over 5,500 man-days in hotel rooms for set construction and filming.[1]

"Not that it was easy work. On a good day in Yuma the temperature would be 120 degrees. That was bad for us but for, say, the Gamorrean guards in their suits, it was like running a marathon every 24 hours."
―Richard Marquand[src]

For A New Hope's Special Edition, the crew returned to the Imperial Sand Dunes to film additional shots of stormtroopers searching for traces of R2-D2 crash landing his escape pod.[3] Later they edited these with the original shots filmed in the Grand Dune in Tunisia.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

Filming locations
Ajim · Chott el Jerid · Djerba · Grand Dune
Hôtel Sidi Driss · Ksar Hadada · Ksar Medenine
Ksar Ouled Soltane · Oung Jmel · Sidi Bouhlel
Sidi Jemour · Tataouine
Brow Head · Black Hangar Studios · Canary Islands
Caserta Palace · Derwentwater · Dingle Peninsula
Dubrovnik · Ealing Studios · Elstree Studios
Fawley Power Station · Finse · Grindelwald
Lake Como · Leavesden Studios · Mount Etna
Reynisfjara · Pinewood Studios · Plaza de España
Shepperton Studios · Skellig Michael · Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Villa del Balbianello · Whippendell Woods
Death Valley · Redwood National Park · Salar de Uyuni
Skywalker Ranch · Tikal · Yuma
Guilin · Phuket
Australia and Oceania
Fox Studios, Sydney
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