Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens became a box office behemoth when it hit theaters in December, earning $936.6 million domestic and $2.06 billion worldwide, but today we have word that the studio will have to relinquish some of that small fortune. The U.K.-based production company Foodles Inc., which is own by Disney and set up specifically for production on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was fined $1.95 million by the British government's Health and Safety Executive for violating the Health and Safety at Work Act, in relation to Harrison Ford's on-set injury.
The accident took place on June 12, 2014. We learned this summer that the incedent was much more serious than initially believed, with a court hearing revealing that Harrison Ford was almost killed by a hydraulic door on the Millennium Falcon set, which came down on his leg with such force that it was compared to the weight of a small car. The actor suffered a broken tibia and fibula, a dislocated ankle and a cut hand. Here's what Judge Francis Sheridan had to say at today's hearing, where the fine was levied, according to The Daily Mail.
"The greatest failing of all on behalf of the company is a lack of communication, a lack because, if you have a risk assessment and you do not communicate it, what is the point of having one? That is the most serious breach here. If only they had included Mr Ford in all the discussions, he might have at least been alert to the dangers that he had to avoid. Had the wrong button been pressed it would have continued to crush down on Mr Harrison Ford. It's just incredible that so much was left to chance."
The door, which was built to replicate the automatic doors from the original Star Wars trilogy, came down just millimeters from the actor's face, as he managed to pass underneath when he was pinned down. The injury would have been much worse had crew members not activated an emergency stop, although they weren't quick enough to stop the door before it came down on his leg. The door was operated by a person who could not see the actor, which the judge added was a "crazy approach' to health and safety," adding that it was "deplorable" that the door needed human intervention to stop it, and there should have been an emergency cut off installed on the door.
The scene in question involved Harrison Ford's Han Solo helping Chewbacca aboard the Millennium Falcon, then shutting the door behind him. Harrison Ford had gone through the door and hit a button, and he started to walk back through the door, believing the set wasn't live, since it was a rehearsal, meaning the door would not close. But the door was remotely operated by another person, and as the actor passed underneath, he was hit in the pelvic area and pinned to the ground. Director J.J. Abrams then reportedly screamed for the door to be lifted, but it couldn't be done by hand, and it had to be released by the controller.
Charles Gibson, who represented Foodles at the hearing, explained that "it is most unfortunate and regrettable that this went wrong." He added that a production supervisor named Peter Notley was the man in charge of the door's remote. Charles Gibson added that he was expecting Harrison Ford to keep moving away from the door, but, "at that most unfortunate moment Mr Ford continued moving towards the door and he was struck by it." It was also reported that although Disney owns Foodles, the parent company will not face any penalties for this accident on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens set.