Back in June of last year, Harrison Ford was injured on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens when the door of the Millennium Falcon fell, dislocating his ankle and breaking his leg in two places. The production was put on hold for six months while Ford recuperated and director J.J. Abrams would later say of the incident, “Once we knew that Harrison was going to be okay, we all realized this was this greatest gift to the movie.” Abrams, and his bosses at Lucasfilm and Disney, may be disagreeing with that sentiment today as officials in London have brought four criminal charges against the Star Wars: The Force Awakens production company.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the British agency in charge of workplace safety, informed Foodles Production, Ltd., the ghost production company Disney and Lucasfilm set up to work anonymously while in London, that it will be prosecuted over “four alleged breaches of health and safety law.” Said an HSE spokesperson in a statement:
The charges relate to an incident during filming of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which left Harrison Ford with serious injuries after he was hit by a heavy hydraulic door. By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor. We have investigated thoroughly and believe that we have sufficient evidence to bring the case to court.
According to the BBC, representatives of Foodles will have to appear at High Wycombe Magistrates Court on May 12 to answer to the charges. A representative for Foodles/Disney/Lucasfilm said they were “disappointed” by the HSE’s decision.
Before you get too worried about the charges and what they mean to the future of Star Wars, the HSE web site states that an offense “carries a maximum fine on conviction…of £20,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.” Though the court could find that a member of the crew was liable for the accident (and Ford admitted on The Jonathon Ross Show that a crew member accidentally pushed a button, dropping the door on him) and sentence them to prison, more likely “Foodles” will be charged the £20,000 for each offense. Considering Star Wars: The Force Awakens just made over $2 billion, Disney is not likely sweating the financial burden.
[Quick explainer on Foodles Production, Ltd. and its relation to both Disney and Lucasfilm. Before filming began on The Force Awakens, specifically in March of 2013, LFL Productions (Lucasfilm Ltd. Productions) set up Foodles Production in London. The address for Foodles is the London address of The Walt Disney Company. Setting up production companies like Foodles is highly common in film production, specifically when you’re looking for privacy, but also because it provides legal protection to the parent companies. It would not be wise to register your production under Lucasfilm and titled Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so in this case the production was registered under Foodles, Ltd. and titled AVCO, the code name for The Force Awakens. If there were an unlimited fine levied against Foodles, it would protect Disney and Lucasfilm from liability.]
Penalties for repeated offenders include an unlimited fine and a jail term of up to 2 years, so you can expect Star Wars: Episode 8 to be as safe as humanly possible.