2000

14 December - TheForce.Net has posted a stunning insider report that describes the rumoured new planet. It's one helluva spoiler, so highlight to read:

From what I can gather, Geonosis is an entirely rocky planet. The environment is dominated by canyons, and giant (I mean giant) stalagmite formations. It looks as though these formations are hollowed out, and maybe serve as towers maybe? Anyways, the Lessers (who like EP1 battledroids) live here. They live underneath the surface of this planet. I assume that they create droid armies here. There is some concept art of them in a type of throne room.

Read the rest of the spy report here. [Could this relate to the filming that is rumoured to have been shot in the hills somewhere between Hadada and Matmata? See reports from 13 November & September 21

7 December - The official Star Wars site has posted a couple of shots from the Tunisian locations:

[This shot of R2-D2 and C-3PO (version 1.1) was taken on the Chott el-Jerid Lars' Homestead set (exterior). You can see the C-3PO now has a shell, albeit a tad roughed up.]

[This picture of Joel Edgerton (spoiler: Owen Lars) was taken in the storeroom next to the bar at the Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmata. This room acted as the dining room in A New Hope. You can see the wall has been freshly coated in white-wash, and the mural on the ceiling is well defined. This suggests that the Lars' Homestead has been made to look new and fresh, as if it was new .]

6 December - regular contributor, Nik Reber, has sent us a copy of the German "Hollywood" magazine. We have scanned and translated the article. You can read it here, review the pictures, and download the original article from Tataouine Tours. [This photos in the article also show part of the Mos Espa set, and the remains of a building that was torn down when filming was finished. Could this be the same building that was mentioned in Nik Reber's location report?]

29 November - The Hotel La Gazelle, operators of Hotel Ksar Hadada, contacted Tataouine Tours today:

"In response to your fax of the 28.11.2000, we have the honor to inform you that Ksar Hadada is no longer a hotel and that it has been closed since February 1999, but it is still possible to visit it."

27 November - VIZ magazine printed this extremely handy "Top Tip" for travellers in Tunisia:

"A sheet of sandpaper makes a cheap and effective substitute for costly maps when visiting the Sahara desert."

Rest assured the Tataouine Tours: Map Set is not a pack of sandpaper from my local DIY shop!

27 November - Tataouine Tours has received a fax from the ONTT in Tozeur giving details on the status of the Mos Espa set:

"Following your recent letter, we have the honour to inform you that the site of Oung Jemel is managed by the company CTV Services (Cinema, Television, Video).

 Any time let us announce you that the site is currently attended by the Tourists of passage in the area."

It looks like the sets are open to tourists who make arrangements with the ONTT in Tozeur in advance. Tataouine Tours will be contacting CTV Services to determine what is happening to the Mos Espa sets, with regards to access for tourists.

25 November - [After having another look at Select #16 we believe that this picture was taken in the south near Douz, where the dune fields really make their presence know. The darkened area in the bottom right looks like it may be of small hummocky dunes, like the ones seen in the opening shots of The English Patient, with the biplane flying over the Sahara. These shots were filmed near Douz. Tataouine Tours did receive a report (see August 27) stating that Lucas had been to Douz during LFL's scouting visit to Tunisia prior to principal photography.]

20 November - Nick Reber contacted us to correct an earlier posting (15 November). The Mos Espa set has not been rebuilt - it has just been repainted to cover up the damage caused by reckless tourists. [The security guard at the site may be a direct result of this.]

"All the buildings and the shape are all the same. The only difference is that they added two faked woodden walls (one near Watto's shop and one opposite the big arch) and that the town is completely repainted and fully equipped (including curtains, door openers, moisture vaporators, pumps etc.)."

16 November - The official Star Wars site has posted Select #16. [It looks like it may have been taken on the Chott el-Gharsa. The figures - a Jawa and Obi-Wan? - are standing on a dune and in the lower right section the hummocky, scrubland of the outer chott can be seen.]

15 November - Lionel Noetzlin informs us that the old Mos Espa set has been scrapped, and a new "junkier" set has been built in its place. [Does this mean that Mos Espa has fallen on hard times?]

13 November - In the recent official Lucasfilm magazine in France an article mentions a fight between Obi-Wan Kenobi and an unknown assailant on a rocky mountain. [Speculation leads us to believe that this may be the filming undertaken in the mountains near Ksar Hadada and Matmata - see report from 21 September]. The article also says that Watto's shop will also been seen in Episode 2. [This might mean that the Mos Espa set was used to film the outside of Watto's shop.]

9 November - Anthony Daniels, on UK TV show "This Morning" let slip that he had posed for a photograph with George Lucas standing in front of the domed "garage" building built on the Chott el-Jerid, with two Sand People standing either side of them. [This confirms that C-3PO and Tusken Raiders will be in scenes at the Lars' Homestead (Exterior) location.]

26 October - In a recent American newspaper article Anthony Daniels stated that he had returned recently from Tunisia, but wouldn't confirm if it was based in a desert world. [Is this another hint at a new, rocky planet? See reports from September 21?]

12 October - Another holidaymaker returning from Tunisia stated that he had seen activity at the Mos Espa set, including:

"a small tent settlement very near the Mos Espa set. It looked like some serious catering was going on in these tents."

On his return from the Mos Espa set he also noticed "that a film crew were below this [Ang Jemal] rock formation." Unfortunately a security guard came up and moved them on before they could have a better look.

10 October - A recent holiday to Tunisia turned up some favourable results for a fellow Star Wars enthusiast. Photos taken whilst in Tunisia show the detail of the Lars' Homestead set decorations and props. Visit the E2 Tunisian Trip website from the LINKS section.

2 October - Though this postdates the previous report, the sender was the first person to visit the Lars' Homestead set during filming! The reporter states that:

"The hotel was completely covered up with a material which I guessed was there either for blue screening or simply to stop people like me taking photos. I took some anyway."

Though none of the cast could be seen there were trailers marked with plaques denoting Star Wars character names [to be used in the scenes?]. One such sign simply said "Amidala". Locals have been employed by JAK Productions [LFL's front whilst in production] and given security passes - which could prove valuable to collector's in years to come.

29 September - LFL's latest Select image has been rendered to show the truth:

LFL Select #12 - rendered

28 September - The official Star Wars site posted it's latest Select picture (see below). It portrays a deformed picture taken of the recently rebuilt Lars' Homestead set on the Chott el-Jerid.

LFL Select #12

21 September - In a delayed, but earlier report from a Tunisian insider, Lucasfilm were revealed to be using a set of caves in Tunisia for filming. [Speculation points to a new planet in Episode II that was rumoured to be filmed in Tunisia, or a misunderstanding about the nature of the pit dwellings in Matmata.] The report also confirms that LFL are reusing the craters used in A New Hope for the Lars' Homestead.

20 September - Episode 2 production has finished location shooting in Italy, Spain and Tunisia.

20 September - The first confirmed report from Tunisia: The Hotel Sidi Driss' (in Matmata) pit dwelling has now been redecorated to resemble the original Lar's Homestead (Interior) set from A New Hope), with wall decorations, vaporators, doorways and a new coat of paint. Overall it has "been restored to a newer, cleaner, younger version." Though the locals had been prepped not to say anything this reporter was able to glean:

"that Christensen, Portman and Best had all been in town. There was also a dark haired younger man and woman, several children and an older man and woman. They said they recognised the older man, but did not know his name."

The report also goes on to state that the slave quarters at Hotel Ksar Hadada have not been used for any Episode 2 filming. The caretaker said there was no return to Ksar Hadada, but he had heard that a film crew had filmed somewhere in the local mountain range. [Could this just be Matmata? The two towns are only 45 miles apart. Or is it a new and unreported location?] The holidaymaker also visited the site of the Lars' Homestead Exterior on the Chott el-Jerid, near Tozeur and found that this location had been recently restored:

"The rim was rebuilt, the roof quarter and entrance hut were back, the vaporators had been taken away, but fresh ground marks remain in therir place. There were also very large sand prints like landing gear. A camel trader said a large wooden structure had been brought it with people moving in and out."

"The big pipe thing in the center had been reconstructed, the doors and door surrounds had been added, silver rectangles had been painted on the walls beside the doors and plastic buttons had been stuck on to the rectangles."

"There were also various parts stuck to the walls of the pit to make it appear more like the Lars homestead and less like an unusual hotel."

"There is a small set of steps, beside the room that Luke and the Lars had their meal in, and they lead up to what is really the hotel bar. From inside the bar you can see that the doors are really just plywood. This is new plywood so these aren't doors left over from the 1976 shoot. On the back of the bar door is written:"

Lars Homestead
Opening B
Drawing 24

"Oddly this is all upside down, but the door is the right way up as it is marked 'BOT' at the bottom."

"On the back of the window shutter it says (the right way up this time):"

Lars Homestead
Opening B
(Fill in)

"To one side of the pit there were several piles of parts that were still to be added to the set."

"I remember one pile of rectangular plastic parts, which had two grooves running across them as if the rectangle was to be bent into a 'C' or [ shape. These had the phrase "Cavity 2" moulded into them."

18 September - A unconfirmed report claims that some filming in Tunisia was done in some caves. A satellite uplink was required in these remote regions.

12 September - An anonymous reporter, having just returned from a trip to Tunisia, says that on a visit to the Hotel Sidi Driss, Matmata it appeared that the Lars' Homestead set was being reconstructed in the hotel and it was nearly finished.

12 September - The official Star Wars site has just posted several quotes, taken from Episode 2 production crew, on location filming in Tunisia:

Producer Rick McCallum: "God, I love location, because you never know what's going to happen."

Production Designer Gavin Bocquet: "It was interesting, reproducing the homestead that John Barry had produced so brilliantly 25 years ago. You always fear you weren't going to get it quite right. That's for others to decide."

B Camera Operator Callum McFarlane: "I like the desert, because it's clean."

4 September -  In a recent Australian newspaper article Jack Thompson confirmed he is heading to Tunisia for his part as Owen Lars' father [spoiler:Clegg Lars?].

27 August - Nick Reber sends in an unconfirmed report which states that George Lucas stayed in a hotel in Douz (south of the Chott el-Jerid) for a weekend, whilst filming was going on near Tozeur. [It isn't known if any LFL crew were with him. Is this a new location or was Lucas just taking a break?]

19 August - UK newspaper "The Guardian" is also running a competition to win a four day safari to visit the locations that A New Hope and The Phantom Menace were filmed at. The competition flyer also says that the trip will include the location to be used in Episode 2. [However, it is doubtful that LFL have revealed any details about the new filming locations - could this mean that the old locations are being reused?]

11 August - The official UK Star Wars magazine is running a competition to visit the Episode One and Four locations in Tunisia. [Of special interest is a photograph of the Ksar Ouled Soltane - this is first semi-official confirmation that the ksar was actually used in The Phantom Menace.]

9 August - TunisiaOnline (see LINKS) stated:

"In preparation for the shooting of the new "Star Wars II" trilogy, work has started on the building of the film sets in the Tunisian south."

"Filming locations will include Chott El Jerid, Chott El Gharsa and Matmata, on the edge of the Tunisian Sahara. Shooting of the new trilogy in Tunisia is expected to start next September."

3 August - On a chance phone-in to the UK radio station BBC Radio 4 Anthony Daniels mentioned that he was about to go to Tunisia for filming.

2 June - Reuters have released the following:

"George Lucas is returning to Tataouine in the Tunisian desert, scene of some of the most celebrated scenes in his Star Wars movies, to shoot part of the latest episode. After preliminary preparations in August, Lucas is expected to start filming "Star Wars II" -- the fifth Star Wars movie but the second in the plot's chronological sequence -- by October or early November, Tunisian officials said Friday."

"Lucas's fascination for the sand dunes, dry river beds and red-walled Ksours or desert palaces of the Sahara first brought him to Tataouine in 1977 [the correct date is 1976], some 300 miles south of Tunis, for his first Star Wars movie."

"The area, immortalized in the latest 'prequel', The Phantom Menace, as the arid planet Tatooine, has become one of Tunisia's leading attractions for tourists who can even go on 'Star Wars safaris'."

8 January - A group of Americans were recently observed taking precise measurements of the main pit dwelling at the Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmata. This is where the Lars' Homestead (Interior) scenes were shot for A New Hope in 1976. No reason was given for their visit. [Obvious speculation would suggest to recreate a duplicate set of the Lars' homestead.]