'Star Wars' U.K. Safety Violation Fines Wouldn't Break the Bank
J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy won’t be forced to testify in front of a jury when the case lands at High Wycombe Magistrates Court on May 12.
As the space dust gradually begins to settle on Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ record-smashing assault on the global box office, one of the less-celebrated moments in the film’s mostly upwards trajectory has resurfaced.
Harrison Ford kept his complaints to a minimum when a section of the Millennium Falcon came loose and broke his ankle during shooting in Pinewood Studios in mid-2014, but the U.K’s Health and Safety Executive has now revealed it is taking action.
The national watchdog for work-related health and safety on Feb. 11 announced that it was prosecuting Foodles Production (UK) Ltd — the Disney subsidiary established in order to keep fans and reporters off the Jedi scent while making Episode VII — over “four alleged breaches” of health and safety law.
“By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers — this is as true on a film set as a factory floor,” the watchdog said, claiming that it had thoroughly investigated the incident and believed there was “sufficient evidence to bring the case to court.”
A Foodles spokesperson said that it had “provided full cooperation” during the investigation and that the company was “disappointed” in the decision.
Many news outlets reported that Star Wars producers were being “sued” by the British government. However, the action isn’t as dramatic — J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy won’t be forced to testify in front of a jury when the case lands at High Wycombe Magistrates Court on May 12. Working on behalf of the British Crown, the HSE’s criminal proceedings are taken against the company, not specific individuals.
And even if Foodles were to be found guilty of breaching its duty to “ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work” of its workers, including Ford, or any one of the four alleged violations, it’s hardly likely to break the bank.
The maximum fine is £20,000 ($29,000) for each breach, a comparatively small amount considering how much the film has grossed so far. Further, Disney already has received a reported $245 million in production incentives from the U.K. government as of 2014.