Star Wars props and costumes worth millions have been destroyed by George Lucas and his crew.
The globally loved sci-fi franchise kicked off in 1977 with first movie ‘A New Hope’ but most of the aliens, space ships and gadgets have been lost forever after being tossed into the trash by the director at the time.
A new interactive exhibition, Star Wars Identities, has opened at The O2 in London comprised of items from all six of the movies George created and a few props from last year’s The Force Awakens – which was made by Disney following his sale of Lucasfilm to the company in 2012.
However, very few items are on display from the original film, including nearly all of the fantastical creatures from the famous Cantina scene or original X-wing or Millennium Falcon models, due to the junking policy.
Laela French is director of archives at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts – which is not yet open to the public and located at George’s Skywalker ranch in California.
She created the attraction and admits there are countless priceless items that have been lost forever.
She said: “In 1977 it wasn’t protocol or typical to save everything from a movie.
“Those we’re just movies, they made it and then everything went away. George Lucas was making A New Hope with the idea that if it was a success he would have two more films he could make.
“And it was a success, but he did save things from that first film just in case his gambit worked out which it did. Really, we’re very lucky he saved what he did from those films.
“But back then not everything was saved because they were thinking about the next film production; they weren’t thinking about making a archive 40 years later.
“We don’t have an original X-wing from the first film. We don’t have the original Millennium Falcon, they didn’t build the whole thing but it would be great to have the original cockpit.”
Laela worked closely with George when he filmed the trilogy of prequels – which starred Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson and Natalie Portman – to preserve many items from the films, but even knowing their potential value, more props were destroyed then saved.
Laela appreciates that the decision to throw away props from the Star Wars Universe will have most fans in tears, but she insists it’s impossible to keep everything from them.
“You can’t keep it all … With Episodes I, II and III, I actually went on set during production at Fox Studios Australia and worked with each department – costume, prop, model – to bring things back to the archives.
“So we either destroyed it or we kept it for the collection and I helped define what pieces we needed to keep; like we kept every piece of costume but we can’t keep every set design.”