We've been talking about an Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff film ever since Disney confirmed plans to make Star Wars spinoffs five years ago. If you looked at the state of the Star Wars universe in the days before The Force Awakens and thought about the most plausible anthology films, it wasn't a stretch at all to imagine a story following Ewan McGregor's Kenobi and his adventures in between Episodes III and IV.
Last summer it was reported the project was moving forward with writer and director Stephen Daldry, but we've yet to hear anything definitive from Lucasfilm. Now another report has surfaced to add fuel to the Kenobi movie fire, and this time it involves George Lucas himself.
According to The Belfast Telegraph, Lucas was in Northern Ireland last November to take a tour of Belfast's Paint Hall studios, best known to genre fans right now as the home base of the HBO series Game of Thrones. The Telegraph's report claims that staff at the studio have been told that, once Thrones finishes shooting its final season and strikes its set, HBO will move out and Lucasfilm will move in.
Lucas was reportedly in Belfast to take a tour of Paint Hall and give his "seal of approval" to the studio as the site of the next Star Wars spinoff's production. According to "an insider," he was "hugely impressed."
"We've been told there will be work throughout 2019 because Star Wars is coming to Belfast," the insider said.
"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."
Though it was announced that he would be a consultant to Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and her team when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, Lucas has remained relatively hands-off when it comes to the four (if you count Solo) Star Wars films produced in the Disney era so far. He's visited sets, and he even helped add a moment to Solo, but touring studios on behalf of a new spinoff film is more involved than we've seen him in a while.
He does seem to have a particular closeness to Obi-Wan as a character, though, so perhaps he just wanted to roll up his sleeves and do a bit more work on this project. Who knows? He might even be acting as the master to whatever Star Wars student ends up taking the helm of the film.
It's also interesting to ponder why Belfast would be chosen as the site for the production. Lucas famously shot his original trilogy at the now-smaller Elstree Studios north of London, while all four Disney-era films so far have been shot at the legendary Pinewood Studios just west of central London. If this report is confirmed, Kenobi would be the first Star Wars film shot at Paint Hall, giving the studio and the Northern Ireland economy yet another boost after Game of Thrones leaves town.
There are a number of reasons why Lucasfilm might end up choosing Paint Hall (perhaps Pinewood is too jam-packed with other projects, including Star Wars: Episode IX), despite reports just last month that Kenobi was set to shoot at Pinewood beginning as early as January 2019. Still, if it's good enough for Westeros, it's good enough for a galaxy far, far away.
Again, this is an unconfirmed report that we could speculate about all day, but no matter which studio the project lands at, the most intriguing piece is this: George Lucas might actually be taking a more active role in making Star Wars movies again.