You'd have to be a pretty hardcore Star Wars fan to recognize the game of Dejarik -- or to even know it by its name. It's a holographic chess game that's played by Chewbacca and C-3PO for 15 seconds in the Millennium Falcon, but in Star Wars pretty much nothing is without a backstory. The game made a reappearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and it was animated by Tippet Studio, who worked on the original game way back in 1977. The studio managed to pack the game with tons of detail, including why it looks so crummy in A New Hope.
In Solo, the Millennium Falcon is new and clean, much different from the grimy, heavily modified version we see in the later years of its service. We decided that it would be a good idea to pitch bringing back the two Holochess characters that didn't make it into the first film in 1977, as if in the Solo movie the Dejarik table was in full working order with all pieces intact. This led to capitalizing on a very serendipitous moment during the shoot where, in one shot, Chewie slams his paw down on the Holochess table in frustration. The force of the blow broke two buttons off the screen right side of the table set piece.
Tippet Studio is a production company that specializes in animation, and designed the stop-motion creatures that would become Dejarik in Star Wars. Chris Morley, the VFX supervisor for Tippet Studios, provided the story behind the game's appearance in Solo on the company's website. When the studio was first designing the monsters that would be the holographic game pieces, it had pitched 10 creatures to Lucasfilm. Only eight were chosen to be in the movie, but when the studio was brought back for Solo, they decided to give those two unused monsters their time in the sun. But how do explain the game having 10 characters in Solo, but only eight in A New Hope? Chewbacca is a sore loser and broke the game, of course.
Solo takes place years before A New Hope, so everything about the Millenium Falcon is shiny and new. That includes Dejarik, which is supposed to have 10 pieces, but Chewbacca breaks the game after losing to Beckett (Woody Harrelson). His Wookie strength causes the game to lose those two monster, leaving only eight left. It was a purely coincidental moment in the movie that Tippet utilized and pitched it to Lucasfilm.
An unplanned event that we thought would be a great opportunity to tell the story of how the two new Holochess pieces were lost from that day forward. We added some sparks, glitched off the two creatures and showed a version to Lucasfilm VFX supervisor Rob Bredow who loved the idea and pitched it to Ron Howard who ran with it. It was a great feeling to be able to embrace the magic of what we call a happy accident.
There's a reason you should always let the Wookie win. For more Star Wars updates, keep it right here at CinemaBlend.