Han Confronts Jabba

The meeting between Han and Jabba the Hutt was also removed from the 1977 release of the film. In the scene, Jabba confronts Han about the money he owes and Greedo’s death. Han explains he had no choice but to dump his shipment of spice because he was boarded by Imperials but tells him he now has a charter that he can use to pay back his debt (which the audience knows is the deal with Luke and Obi-Wan). Jabba agrees to offer Han an extension in exchange for an extra twenty percent on the debt but warns he will put a huge bounty on his head if Han disappoints him again.

Why it was cut

This scene was cut for both technical and pacing reasons. According to the recollections of George’s wife and film editor Marcia Lucas in 1983, George did not feel the performance of Declan Mulholland as Jabba was strong enough, and he also didn’t like that Jabba’s goons in the background all looked like they were molded out of green plastic. Furthermore, the film slowed down the pacing of the film, and the scene’s purpose (discussing Han’s debt to Jabba) could be solely conveyed in the earlier Greedo scene.[1]

The film’s producer, Gary Kurtz, also mentioned the scene’s redundancy with the Greedo scene, and further mentioned that they faced several problems with cameras and film stock when shooting the scene, and they ran out of time to fix the problems by the film’s release.[2]

George Lucas himself gives a further recollection: that he wanted to replace the human actor, Mulholland, with a stop-motion alien, but ILM did not have time to complete the effect.[3] However, some fans have called into question this recollection, given the fact that the shooting script only refers to Jabba as a ‘salivering hulk’ with a scarred face and that there is no other evidence of any attempts at special effects to be done on this scene, including when it was shot.

The discussion around when exactly Lucas decided to make Jabba an alien and what, if any, factor that played into the decision to cut the scene is far too lengthy for this exhibit. For more on this topic, see this article about Jabba on The Secret History of Star Wars by Michael Kaminski.

Regardless, Jabba the Hutt made his first appearance in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, in which he is a large alien slug.

For the 1997 special edition of A New Hope, Lucas tasked ILM to restore this scene and insert the slug-like Jabba as a computer-generated character. Boba Fett, originally created for 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back,[4] was also inserted as a background character in the scene. This scene has been included in every re-release of A New Hope since then.

[1] John Phillip Peecher, ed., The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (New York: Ballantine Books, 1983), 89.

[2] J. W. Rinzler, The Making of Star Wars (New York: Del Rey Books, 2007), 232.

[3] Rinzler, The Making of Star Wars, 232.

[4] Boba Fett first appeared in the Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978, but George Lucas originally created him in his April 1978 draft of The Empire Strikes Back. Brian Jay Jones, George Lucas: A Life (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016), 268.