Star Wars Exec Reveals A Lightsaber Goof In Empire Strikes Back

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back
(Image credit: (Lucasfilm))

As fans get emotionally ready for Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker at year’s end, it may soon be time for a movie marathon of the series. And now when you revisit Empire Strikes Back you can point out this deep cut goof that sadly reminds fans of the franchise’s Earthly roots.

Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, who is a creative executive in story development took to Twitter to share his catch during his rewatch of Episode IV. Take a look:

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Do you see it? If you look really closely on the left screenshot, you can see an upside down encryption of “New York” on the top of the lightsaber. The empire strikes back indeed… the Empire State Building that is! Why would the prop be made to include this anyway? Does New York even exist in the Star Wars universe? I guess the Big Apple made Luke’s iconic lightsaber! Who knew, right?

The fact that it made the final cut means that the filmmakers probably never noticed it. In fact, no one did! Pablo Hidalgo’s find is the first mention of the goof in the 40 years Empire Strikes Back by the internet’s memory.

The screenshot is from the beginning of the film when Mark Hamill’s Luke is on Hoth, trapped inside the cave of a Wampa. Take a look below:

I’ll never look at that scene the same way again. Or Luke’s lightsaber for that matter. In the current Star Wars timeline Rey will be in the possession of this Lightsaber, which she will apparently repair after it was broken in The Last Jedi. To maintain continuity, maybe “New York” will still be on it? Hidalgo might have contemplated it - part of his job description is to help create and maintain a cohesive canon in the Star Wars universe.

New York just can’t help but make its way into major movie franchise. Between it being a central hub for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and just about every 2000’s rom-com, the city certainly likes the big screen attention. It couldn’t just let Hoth have it’s moment, could it?

These days, it can be easy to forget that Star Wars started as a low budget project. Empire Strikes Back had an initial production budget of $18 million, which was actually 50% more than A New Hope’s. In comparison, The Last Jedi’s budget was between $200 to $317 million. Fun goofs like this allow us to remember this.

Fans can now build their own lightsaber at the newly opened Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Owning your own metal, customizable saber costs $200 for guests, but comes with a 20 minute experience (check out CinemaBlend’s own review of the experience for more information on it).

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.