Brent Holmes

Zeit: It's Naboo, baby!

Desert Companion

Why not film Star Wars sequels in a city not so far, far away?

J.J. Abrams, you may have heard, recently took another stab at revving up the Star Wars cash engine with The Force Awakens. Wired took an extensive look at the saga’s transformation from George Lucas’ baby to a self-replicating shared-universe film bonanza. “If everything works out for Disney,” Adam Rogers wrote, “and if you are (like me) old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film, you will probably not live to see the last one.”

Well, hell, it sounds like there’s plenty to go around. Why shouldn’t Las Vegas get in on the action with some of our locales that would be perfect for double duty as Star Wars sets?

Valley of Fire. It’s almost self-parody at this point that Star Wars planets only have one climate. Hoth is all tundra. Coruscant is all city. Endor is all forest. In that tradition, desert planets are the dry-aged porterhouse of single-climate planets. Tattooine appears in five of the six movies so far, and Awakens is heavy on another dustball, Jakku. Why go all the way to Tunisia when you could set up a few Jawas on the valley’s ridges and boulders?

Fontainebleau. Empire? Lightsaber fight in an industrial, minimalist area near a bottomless pit. Jedi? Lightsaber fight in an industrial, minimalist area near a bottomless pit. Menace? Lightsaber fight in an industrial, minimalist area near a bottomless pit. It’s actually contractually mandated by the Jedi Union. Judging from footage shot inside Fontainebleau in 2012, it’s like the place was left unfinished specifically to appeal to the Sith Tourism Board.

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XS. Remember the clone facilities of Kamino, the water planet? They were chock full of identical people in identical uniforms who had only one purpose in life. Well …

Hemenway Park. Who are the Tusken Raiders, the mysterious Sandpeople, really? We only see them beating up Luke in the first movie, and taking pot shots at podracers in The Phantom Menace. What do they do when they’re on vacation? How about bringing their little bandage-wrapped tykes to a family-friendly tourist spot, where they can ride desert bighorn sheep? Which are basically bantha ponies.

Electric Daisy Carnival. The Mos Eisley Spaceport Cantina. Jabba’s palace. Whatever that one place was at the start of Attack of the Clones that clearly wanted to be the Mos Eisley Spaceport Cantina but with one one-hundredth the sense of wonder or joy. The Star Wars universe is full of social spots for colorful weirdos. Well …

Bellagio. The copper patina roof and Italianate look of MGM’s crown jewel isn’t that far off what we saw of the Naboo capital. Which means the Bellagio would be the perfect stand-in for the Theed Courthouse, where Jar Jar Binks is tried, convicted and executed for crimes against the galaxy. His charred bones would be an excellent addition to the conservatory, don’t you think?

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