Belfast to join Star Wars universe as spin-off movie comes to town
Belfast will be the centre of the Star Wars universe when the latest spin-off from the movie franchise is filmed there in 2019.
Staff at the city's Paint Hall studios in the Titanic Quarter have been told that once production on the final series of Game Of Thrones finishes later this year, the legendary sci-fi saga will be coming to town.
Star Wars creator George Lucas was in Belfast before Christmas checking out locations for a new stand-alone film centring on the life of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi - with Ewan McGregor reprising the role he first played in 1999 prequel The Phantom Menace.
There has been speculation the film will be directed by Stephen Daldry whose hits include Billy Elliot, The Reader and hit TV series The Crown.
Movie mogul Lucas was pictured eating out in swanky Holywood restaurant Noble during his short Belfast visit. The snap led to frenzied speculation as to why he was visiting the city.
It's understood that it was to give his seal of approval to the latest Star Wars spin-off being shot in Northern Ireland - a move that will pump millions of pounds into the local economy.
Lucas spent part of his time here last November being given a guided tour of the Paint Hall studios. Paint Hall sources said Lucas was hugely impressed by the Belfast studio.
"We've been told there will be work throughout 2019 because Star Wars is coming to Belfast," said an insider.
"It was all very low key, only a few people knew that the old guy walking round the set was George Lucas. It was only when we were told about Star Wars coming here next year that it dawned on us that was why he was here before Christmas."