We all have enjoyed our first glimpse into some Star Wars: Episode Eight set construction pictures this week. Within those images, we started to get a feel for what scenery we will see in the next chapter of our saga. The beautiful city of Dubrovnik with its lovely architecture by the sea is about as picture-esk as it gets. When the pictures started making the rounds on Star Wars news sites and forums, many of the first impressions felt like this new set was Naboo. Never underestimate the initial gut reaction of the masses I always say. Because more often than not, it’s usually right.
So without any real sources to glean information from lets swim around in the circumstantial evidence pool for a bit. Sure our fingers may end up pruney and we may very well drown in our ridiculous speculation, but when it’s this early in the process, we all should get pass.
First and foremost let’s address the main reason about using Dubrovnik instead of the famed Palace of Caserta, Seville Spain or Northern Italy to recreate Naboo. Of course that reason is money. Even when they say it isn’t about the money, it’s about the money. Dubrovnik is establishing itself as a new player when it comes to Hollywood productions on location. With easier access, less regulation and cost, filming in new areas like Dubrovnik make incredible sense. Especially when you have the full support of the government. A move that benefits Hollywood but also the incredibly wonderful people and small business owners of Croatia. There is no better tourism commercial than being in a Star Wars film and the money generated by supporting this production for the local economy’s coffers cannot be understated.
Dubrovnik makes sense for Naboo the same way Ceann Sibeal does for Skellig Michael and that is for action shots. Famed UNESCO sites like Skellig Michael and the Palace of Caserta in Naples, come with lots of restrictions and red tape. Conducting long shoots that incorporate pyrotechnics and stunt work, make it almost impossible to do on such hallowed real estate. Whether it’s Jedi’s doing back flips on Ceann Sibeal or a blaster bolts screaming down the main street of Dubrovnik, you can do more when it isn’t a heritage site and the local and regional government is backing you up. It’s also a great help when these up and coming filming locations, looking to make their mark as a viable shooting location alternative for Hollywood, can summon up an army of cheap security to protect your investment from prying eyes and even shut down the city for large swaths of time for filming. Something that would be impossible to do in Naples. Remember that story about shooting down drones in Dubrovnik, in what would be public air space in most other countries. Those are just a few of the numerous advantages of filming in countries willing to do whatever is necessary to bring in the money.
Using the gorgeous city of Dubrovnik for Naboo makes good money sense and allows for huge flexibility in execution to make this film. But talking about money and regulations is one thing and minor circumstantial evidence is another. Being the son of a bricklayer and paver you establish a habit of looking at stones more than the next guy. After spending countless hours with my Dad paving large projects in the summers during college (my fingers still hurt carrying sleeves of bricks) you get an appreciation for the unique look of lots of different stone. So when I first saw the faux stone work adoring the storefronts on main street in Dubrovnik, it instantly reminded me of the stone facade adorning the Naboo Palace in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones. The sandstone used in the building’s facade is nearly identical to what we see in the Naboo Palace in Theed. This could be just coincidence, but then again, lots of planning and careful consideration is made during the design phase of a film. Surely they would not want to accidently recreate a new world that looks like Naboo but isn’t. I write that last sentence completely ignoring the similarities between Jakku and Tatooine and smile devilshly as I do it. Sure it’s just a stone facade, but why pick the exact same stone? Moreover the pavers on the city streets of Dubrovnik’s main street are not that far off from the palace in Naples as well.[pp_gallery gallery_id=”5372″ width=”150″ height=”238″]
If Naboo is truly back in Star Wars: Episode Eight, it bring with it lots of questions and really great memories. Could this be the new home of the Republic, after its destruction on Hosnian Prime? Could Luke or Leia be looking for answers in the past? Remember those rumors of Darth Vader’s castle long ago and the concept art of the castle with Kylo holding Ren hostage. The speculation horizon is far and wide but I feel really great about the possibility of seeing Naboo again in a Star Wars film. We saw it’s return in the fantastic comic series Star Wars Shattered Empire which hinted at Leia’s desire to know more about her past. Something that again was deliberate in a comic series that made a point to start tying things to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
All of this is circumstantial without a lick of evidence but it does make you wonder if this really is a recreation of the city of Theed. All we really ever saw of Theed was the Palace and some action outside it’s doors. Perhaps Dubrovnik may show us more of Naboo that we have always wanted to see, a stroll down Main Street.
Source pictures of Dubrovnik were provided by StarWarsDubronvnik.com.