Star Wars: Baby Yoda Puppeteer Debunks $5 Million Price Tag

As it turns out, the Baby Yoda puppet from Disney+'s Star Wars: The Mandalorian doesn't actually cost a ridiculous amount of money. At Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim on Saturday, John Rosengrant of Legacy Effects debunked the report that the series' Grogu puppet cost $5 million dollars to create and revealed how that remarkable sum came to be taken as "fact".

"It started with the greatest rumor of all time, which is absolutely not true," Rosengrant said. "I would have retired ages ago if this was true, but to get them to stop mistreating the Baby, Jon told them, 'Stop it. You can't keep hitting it, it cost $5 million.' 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 did not."

The story stems 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 Mandalorian, recounted the story as well as how being told the puppet's cost made him nervous.

"I remember the first take that I did when I punched it," Pally said. "They called 'cut' and Jon, who was watching on a monitor in his office, came down and said, 'I just want to let you know that this is the hero [expensive puppet] and it costs like $5 million. I want you to hit it, but I want you to know that.'"

He then went on to explain how the revelation of the cost made him so nervous that he missed his punches for the next three takes. But while Baby Yoda — or Grogu, as is his proper name — isn't quite that expensive to make, Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy recently revealed that the studio was initially cautious about bringing the character to life in The Mandalorian.

"No, that was part of it from the beginning," Kennedy told Vanity Fair of the Baby Yoda concept. "There's always some evolution. That character and what it looked like took a bit of time, but that character was something that he had identified right from the beginning. There was a lot of discussion around whether that was something we should or shouldn't do." She added, "Yeah, it gave us some pause. But the thing I love about Jon [Favreau] is he's very definitive. He also gives a lot of thought to what he wants to do. He's always, always respectful of Star Wars and what it means and not just doing things flippantly. So, he and Dave [Filoni] debated that quite ferociously. Both came to the conclusion that—why not? Everybody knows that Yoda is not just a singular being; he is of a species. That could develop into something interesting."

Kennedy clarified, "Not against. Cautious. Cautious," when asked about Favreau and Filoni's debate. "I internalized a lot of the debate they were having. I think what struck me was it was a bold idea. I'm always attracted to that. You could look back and maybe think that was an expected idea-but it wasn't. Initially, he was just trying to create a character-the Mandalorian is taking care of The Child. That's the basic concept. It was The Child. What that The Child looked like is what evolved over time. The bold idea that maybe it's of the species that Yoda is immediately gives you a context and a potential backstory. That's exciting in Star Wars because all these things need 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 season three will premiere in February 2023 on Disney+.