Turns out Disney+’s Baby Yoda puppet Star Wars: The Mandalorian doesn’t actually cost a ridiculous amount of money. At the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim on Saturday, Legacy Effects’ John Rosengrant debunked the report that the series’ Grogu puppet cost $5 million to create and revealed how that remarkable sum came to be seen as a fact”.
“It started with the biggest rumor ever, which is absolutely untrue,” Rosengrant said. “I would have retired a long time ago if that was true, but to get them to stop abusing the baby, Jon told them, ‘Stop. You can’t keep hitting him, it cost 5 million of dollars.’ And then, of course, one of those guys went to the press and the next thing, you know, the baby cost $5 million. Trust me, it didn’t.”
The story goes back to the 2020 TCA Winter Press Tour when actor Adam Pally, who played one of the Scout Troopers who punched Baby Yoda in the Season 1 finale of The Mandaloriantold the story as well as how being told the cost of the puppet made him nervous.
“I remember the first take I made when I hit him,” Pally said. “They called ‘cut’ and Jon, who was watching on a monitor in his office, came downstairs and said, ‘I just want you to know that’s the hero [expensive puppet] and it costs about $5 million. I want you to hit him, but I want you to know.'”
He then explained how the revelation of the cost made him so nervous that he missed his shots for the next three takes. But while Baby Yoda – or Grogu, as his proper name is – isn’t that expensive to make, Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy recently revealed that the studio was initially cautious about bringing the character to life in Mandalorianm
“No, it was part of it from the start,” Kennedy told Vanity Fair of the Baby Yoda concept. “There’s always an evolution. This character and what he looked like took a bit of time, but this character was something he identified early on. There was a lot of discussion about whether it was something we should or shouldn’t be doing.” She added, “Yeah, that got us thinking. But what I love about Jon [Favreau] is it very definitive. He also thinks a lot about what he wants to do. He is always, always respectful of star wars and what that means and not just doing it casually. So he and Dave [Filoni] debated quite fiercely. Both came to the conclusion that—why not? Everyone knows that Yoda isn’t just a singular being; he is of a species. It could turn into something interesting.”
Kennedy clarified, “Not against. Cautious. Cautious,” when asked about the Favreau and Filoni debate. “I internalized a lot of the debate they were having. I think what struck me was that it was a bold idea. I’m still drawn to that. You could look back and can -might think it was an expected idea, but it wasn’t.. Initially he was just trying to create a character – the Mandalorian takes care of the child. That’s the core concept. That was the kid. What the kid looked like is what evolved over time. The bold idea that maybe that’s the species Yoda is immediately gives you context and a potential backstory. It’s exciting in Star Wars because all of these things have to be connected. That’s what I recognized right away when he was talking about it. Then when we saw it, I mean … come on.”
Star Wars: The Mandalorian the third season will premiere in February 2023 on Disney+.