The clip comes amid speculation that Lucasfilm, owned by Disney, will not be returning to the Co Kerry island. Reports suggest the production company has recreated parts of Skellig Michael at Pinewood Studios near London.
Last week, fan site makingstarwars.net, which correctly predicted much of the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, released details of the recreation, quoting sources from the studio.
“The Skellig Michael sets have been built and in some cases recreated at Pinewood. Filming at Skellig Michael was just too complicated for environmental reasons. Migrating birds have more power than any corporation over that isle,” said the source.
Blogger Jason Ward, who runs makingstarwars.net, said the news could mean Skellig Michael will have greater screen time in the sequel to The Force Awakens than first expected.
When asked about the unconfirmed reports, Pinewood Studios declined to comment and referred the question to Lucasfilm. At the time of printing, Lucasfilm had not yet responded to this paper’s query. However, documents previously released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed producers had indeed sought permission to create moulds of beehive huts on the island.
Permission to apply a silicon gauze to one of the huts was refused by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Producers were advised instead to create a 3D laser scan.
A spokesperson from the OPW confirmed that the Star Wars crew did not take moulds on the island. The office also said they were unaware of any plans to return to the island for Star Wars filming.
Despite the potential blow to Irish tourism should the crew decide not to come back for filming, Tourism Ireland yesterday launched phase two of its Star Wars campaign, marking the occasion with a special behind-the-scenes video it commissioned Lucasfilm to shoot during the filming for The Force Awakens.
The clip features stunning shots of Skellig Michael and gives fans a unique insight into the film-makers’ choice of the island as a location for Star Wars.
“I got an email from Rick Carter [the production designer for The Force Awakens]. He sent this link and it was Skellig island and JJ [Abrams] immediately wrote back and said ‘I love you, oh my God this is the best’. I remember when we all flew in. It was special and we knew it,” said executive producer Tommy Harper.
Abrams himself said the location was “so beautiful” he couldn’t believe he got to shoot there. As the first Star Wars film in a decade, it recorded the biggest global box office opening in history with a €111m opening day.