A Long Time Ago: Every Star Wars Filming Location

38 years ago in a galaxy close, close to our own… In fact, it was within our galaxy that Star Wars was originally released on May 25, 1977. While “May the 4th” has become known as “Star Wars Day,” it’s later in this month that the real fans celebrate. With a set of new films set to release later this year, now is a good time to look back at some of the real life places that became the fictional places in that “galaxy far, far away.”

View Star Wars Filming Locations in a full screen map

The map above shows significant filming locations that were outside of studios, from the forest of Endor to the sand of Tatooine. Due to special effects, much of the Star Wars series has been filmed in sound studios. The three sequels will call Pinewood Studios, just north of London, home. Previously, most Star Wars films had studio work done at Esltree Studios, also in England.

One of the better-known locations is Tunisia, which has been home to the desert planet of Tatooine in episodes I, II, and IV. Episode VII will break tradition, as Abu Dhabi replaces Tunisia for Tattooine. The only other place to represent Tatooine was Death Valley, California, used only in the original movie and Return of the Jedi.

Casual fans may have trouble remembering the progression of Star Wars movies. The original movie was retroactively named Episode IV. In the 2000s, Lucasfilm released the much-anticipated prequel trilogy. Here’s the chronological order of the six films, along with the year they were first in theaters.

  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

The most geographically diverse location has to be Naboo. The picturesque planet has been portrayed by Spain, UK, and multiple areas in Italy.

Like most films, Star Wars did some filming in California. However, it got outside of typical Los Angeles for its other-worldly settings: the desert of Death Valley and the Redwood Forest join the Yuma Desert as the only US locations.

Of course, the best of Hollywood frequently films outside of SoCal, as we discovered when looking at the filming locations of Oscar Best Pictures.