1997

28 December - Ewan McGregor will be heading to Tunisia to do some filming for the prequel in 2 weeks. We don't know if they are reshoots or if it is new footage. This is interesting because previously we weren't aware that he had actually done any filming in Tunisia before now. This would confirm that Ben shows up on Tatooine at some point, as you would expect.

9 December Reports of on the damage caused by a severe storm hitting the Episode 1 sets have come in:

"The Tatooine set looked like a trailer park hit by a tornado... Hundreds of costumes scattered across the desert, half buried in the wet sand. Dressing room tents were torn to shreds. Metal scaffoldings were unbelievably bent. Prop trucks were damaged by flying debris. Robots were lying everywhere, broken and rusted as if on a battlefield. Fallen plaster sets were broken to pieces. Landspeeders had been lift up and thrown against each other... Simply put, the set was devastated."

22 September - Lucas intends to leave the Tatooine set intact for Tunisia to use as a tourist attraction.

22 September - From a recent article on Tunisian tourism:

"George Lucas, who 20 years ago filmed part of his Star Wars series in the region, finished work on his most recent movie there in last month. 'This is my third film in the Tunisian desert, which is an ideal location for filming, and I hope to come back for a fourth one,' he told reporters. Working with him was Taieb Jallouli, a Tunisian assistant designer who worked on The English Patient and says he discovered the Onk Ejmel site. 'It was in 1995. The English Patient producer and designer were looking for a desert site where they could land a plane. When I came (to) Onk Ejmel with designer Stuart Graig, he said it was fantastic,' Jallouli said. It was fantastic for Tunisian tourism too. 'The success of The English Patient was a godsend,' Tunisian Tourism Minister Slahedine Maaoui told Reuters. 'The beauty of the desert sites where it was partly filmed has had a good effect on Saharan tourism in Tunisia and I expect this will continue.' Onk Ejmel is about 30 km (19 miles) from the luxury hotels boarding the oasis of Tozeur. Bookings in the area from January to late August were 15 percent higher than in the same period last year."

"That is good news for a country that derives 16 percent, or 1.413 billion dinars ($1.3 billion) in 1996, of its foreign currency revenue from tourism. Trying to increase that total, the government has focused efforts over the last decade on developing Saharan tourism in addition to that in the traditional seaside resorts. 'The Sahara is full of surprises,' said Maaoui. 'That's why it has a fascinating power. It is a must to our country's tourism.' "

12 August - Yesterday the official Star Wars site reported about the destruction of the sets in Tunisia by a sandstorm. They also reported that the crew was staying in a hotel in Tozeur. (SEE Articles).