[UPDATE: Lucasfilm has announced that Star Wars: Episode VIII, not The Force Awakens, will be filming in Ireland.]
Right from the start, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has ranked among our most anticipated films arriving in 2015. Even now, excitement for the J.J. Abrams-directed film continues to build, even as details regarding the movie's narrative remain scarce.
With less than 100 days until the Star Wars live-action movie saga comes roaring back to life, the merchandising blitz has officially started heating up. However, a new report reveals where additional shooting for The Force Awakens will be taking place in the next few weeks.
According to RTÉ News, Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has confirmed that Lucasfilm has been granted permission to return to the island of Skellig Michael for additional Star Wars filming. Due to the land's environmental and ecological conditions, a specialist will be on hand to ensure that the production doesn't disturb the wildlife or habitat itself, as some objectors had worried.
Skellig Michael served as one of the locations where The Force Awakens was filmed. Though it has not been officially confirmed, it is safe to say these reshoots - which will be completed in September and are limited only to certain areas of the island - will indeed be for this December's Star Wars film.
[UPDATE: Since this initial report, EW has been informed by Lucasfilm that it's writer/director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII, not The Force Awakens, that will be filming in Ireland soon. The rest of this article has been left as it was originally published.]
The RTÉ News report mentions that the Force Awakens scenes fimed in Skellig Michael back in 2014 are being tweaked because the weather at the time was "too good" for the sequences in question. It's possible the scenes being reshot are set on the mystery planet that houses the villainous First Order's new superweapon, as that world is rumored to have a global climate that varies from the more wintery conditions glimpsed in Force Awakens trailer footage and images, so far. Of course, that planet and the arid planet Jakku are the only settings we know for certain are in Force Awakens right now, so these scenes could well take place on another world in the Star Wars universe altogether.
Indeed, considering how little we actually know about Force Awakens, it's anyone's guess exactly how this new footage will factor into the onscreen action. More than likely, this is simply an instance of the film's second unit shooting some landscape shots and/or filling in the gaps on existing scenes featuring the cast. After all, additional photography for films of this massive scope and budget are quite routine; in fact, 2016 tentpoles like Captain America: Civil War will no doubt also undergo pickup photography sometime within the next six months or so.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: RTÉ News
Update Source: EW