THE plot for the next Star Wars film is guarded more closely than the Death Star, but one thing is certain, it will feature plenty of Irish mist and rain.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the last movie in the Lucasfilm Disney Star Wars series, which was re- leased in December, has generated more than $2 billion (£1.3bn) at the box office, making it the third highest grossing film of all time.
It featured Ireland in a dramatic ending filmed in a sixth-century monastic settlement off the west Irish coast.
“Ireland has become an important part of Star Wars history,” Candice Campos from Lucasfilm Disney, said, officially announcing that Ireland would feature in the eighth instalment.
Irish Film Board chief executive James Hickey said he hoped for “increased levels of job creation, incoming tourists and foreign direct investment to Ireland”.
“There’s a buzz around and the exposure worldwide is unbelievable,” said Donal O Cathain, a bar owner in Ballyferriter, the small village nearest the set constructed on Ceann Sibeal, a rocky promontory.
Christy Mac Gearailt, who runs a local restaurant, said: “I don’t know if the force is with us but it has certainly forced us to work a lot harder because of the increase in the number of visitors.”
Director Rian Johnson began shooting last month on a remote stretch of coastline in southwest Ireland, and businesses are cashing in. Local owners of four-wheel drive off-road vehicles are reportedly earning €300 (£228) a day to ferry the cast and crew along a temporary road up the hillside to the shoot location, which is bounded by cliffs on three sides.
Among the fans eagerly awaiting the premiere will be Irish-American Jack Sullivan who was in a group trying to catch a glimpse of a structure jutting out from the hilltop, believed to be a Jedi temple.
“This is a real bonus on our trip to Ireland,” he said. “It’s just a pity we can’t get to see it up close. I can’t wait until the movie comes out now!”
Episode VIII in the saga is scheduled for release in December 2017.