'Jedi' movie's lumber returns as roofing for Yuma house

2013-05-10T00:00:00Z 'Jedi' movie's lumber returns as roofing for Yuma houseJoyce Lobeck Yuma Sun Arizona Daily Star
May 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

YUMA - It's no mystery to Kelly Curtis what happened to the lumber used to build Jabba the Hutt's sand barge filmed in the sand dunes for a segment in "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi."

A lot of it is in the roof of his house.

"What do you mean, you don't know where the wood went?" Curtis recalled thinking when an article about the sand barge was published in a special section of the Yuma Sun commemorating the 30th anniversary of Yuma's "Return of the Jedi" experience.

"It's at 3182 W. Iron Drive."

Curtis related how that came about.

After filming of the segment was completed in the spring of 1982, a local company was contracted to dismantle the set and dispose of the salvaged materials. One of the contractors was Austin Johnson, a friend of Curtis' father. At the time, the Curtis family, including the four boys and their father, was building an adobe house.

"We needed long lengths of lumber to finish the roof and didn't have much money at the time," he recalled. "We ended up purchasing a couple of trailers full of the beams and plywood, using it in our roof."

Asked what they paid for the salvaged material, Curtis said he didn't know - he was 10 years old at the time.

He does know, though, "With my dad, it had to be a smoking deal."

The timing was perfect as the family needed roofing materials. The house is 4,300 square feet, so it took the large sections of plywood and other materials from the sand barge to cover the big space, Curtis said.

"I remember taking the wood off the trailers and putting it on the roof. It didn't sit around."

Today Curtis owns the house, behind Ironwood Golf Course, and is proud of it.

"I have the 'Star Wars' house," he said. "As a kid, it was a big deal that I got the Jedi house.

"Needless to say my house was popular with my friends. Every time the movie came up, I could say the roof of my house was from it."

Today, with the "Star Wars" resurgence, his children have the same bragging rights.

"It's like having a famous uncle," Curtis said.

He also recalled being in the audience when the movie opened. When the sand dunes scene came up, there was a big cheer.

"So many people in Yuma worked on it. It was a big deal."

The Yuma Sun also received reports that plywood from the set went to several other houses, and many horse corrals in Yuma were built with wood salvaged from the movie set.

Some of the large beams used to support the sand barge 20 feet in the air went into construction of the restaurant at Martinez Lake, Johnson recalled.

"All the material was top-of- the-line," he said. "It was all first-class materials."

He said he partnered with Frank Amavisca to remove the materials from the set.

They were paid $20,000 in addition to whatever money they received for selling the salvaged materials.

It was good deal for those who purchased the wood, as the contractors "knocked 50 to 80 percent off the new price."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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