CORRECTION: Lucasfilm says reports that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be regrouping for reshoots in Ireland this month are erroneous and that the actual plan is to begin shooting sequences from director Rian Johnson’s 2017 sequel Episode VIII.
The initial reports out of Ireland were that J.J. Abrams and company were returning to the island Skellig Michael off the southern coast of Ireland later this month for some additional photography.
Heather Humphries, Ireland’s arts minister, confirmed the news amid concerns about how shooting would be handled on the island, according to Irish TV news RTÉ. An ecologist and observers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Monuments Service will monitor filming to protect archaeological sites and wildlife habitats, and the Lucasfilm production has agreed to honor strict guidelines set in place to protect the site.
Lucasfilm now tells EW that the confusion about what was shooting came from them trying to stay low-key and using the title ‘Star Wars’ without differentiating between the films.
It’s not unusual for big budget films to reshoot some scenes in the midst of editing, although rarely this close to release. Sources tell EW that smaller scale reshoots have happened during the summer, including during the time some of the cast was gathered in Southern California for Disney’s D23 fan expo last month.
Skellig Michael is a sharp cluster of rocks rising 715 feet out of the sea, wearing a coat of lush vegetation wherever the land is flat enough to take root. It’s also home to many sea birds, some of them threatened, which has led the Irish environmental group An Taisce to object to filming on the island, according to The Irish Times.
The island is home to the ruins of a small monastery that was occupied for between 400 and 600 years until the 12th century, which is most likely why the Star Wars team is interested in shooting there. The island is a UNESCO Heritage Site and tourism is severely restricted to prevent damage to the ruins, which include steep, crumbling stone steps that rise to the monastery at 600 feet above sea level.
How will it be used in the story? Only those national park inspectors and the birds they’re watching will know for sure.
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