When J.J. Abrams took the helm on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were excited to learn that he was taking the franchise back to its roots in using real locations and practical effects, just like George Lucas did with his original trilogy. We didn't get to see one of the most important locations, Skellig Michael Island, until the end of the movie. This island off the coast of Ireland was used for the Jedi temple where we see Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for the first time. Today we have a new video from Discover Ireland, with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage from the Skellig Michael Island shoot and details about how they found this unique location.
Star Wars: Episode VIII director Rian Johnson has already shot scenes for his highly-anticipated sequel at Skellig Michael Island back in September, before principal photography begins in earnest later this month. A report from Making Star Wars surfaced last week that a re-creation of the Skellig Michael Island set has been built at Pinewood Studios, since sources claim that the shoot at Skellig Michael Island was too complicated for environmental reasons, including migrating birds. We also reported last week that this planet where Luke has been hiding at is known as Ahch-To.
This new report also reveals that, while parts of the Jakku scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens were shot in Abu Dhabi, other portions of these scenes were shot at Pinewood Studios. The studio shots were seamlessly integrated into the film with the on-location shoots. The production will blend the exterior shots from Skellig with new shots at Pinewood Studios when production begins on Star Wars: Episode VIII this month, so fans shouldn't worry about these scenes on location and in the studio failing to match up with each other.
In addition, Star Wars: The Force Awakens cinematographer Daniel Mindel has taken to his Instagram page to reveal new behind-the-scenes shots from the production. These images include a glimpse of BB-8 being checked out during the Abu Dhabi shoot, a closer look at Captain Phasma's helmet and a look at Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) lightsaber fight with Finn (John Boyega). The Star Wars Facebook page has also released two more photos, offering new looks at Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has currently made $740.2 million at the domestic box office, with $770.5 million internationally for a global tally of $1.51 billion after just 17 days at the box office. This beloved adventure is expected to pass Avatar's all-time domestic record of $760.5 million this week, but it still has a ways to go before breaking that movie's $2.7 billion worldwide record. While we wait for official word on these box office records, take a look at this new video and photos from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.