Transformers rumoured to be the latest blockbuster to be set on Skye

‘Optimus Prime’, from the Transformers series. Pic cc/Joey Cortez

The next instalment in the ‘Transformers’ series is set to be the latest Holywood film production to feature the Isle of Skye.

The Free Press understands shooting for ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ – the fifth in the blockbuster series of science fiction films based on the popular 1980s toys – is due to take place in the coming weeks.

In recent years the island has provided the backdrop for a number of film and TV productions – most recently the Disney adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘BFG’, which was directed by Steven Spielberg.

Scenes for ‘Macbeth’, which stars Michael Fassbender, were shot in Trotternish, while the Old Man of Storr was used in Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ prequel ‘Prometheus’. Keanu Reeves 2013 film ‘47 Ronin’ had scenes shot near Neist Point, and the landscapes of Skye and Wester Ross also had big screen exposure on ‘Stardust’, which featured Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro.

According to film website IMDB ‘Transformers 5: The Last Knight’ will star Mark Wahlberg alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins, and is due for release in 2017.

Similar to the BFG, it seems likely Skye will be used in the film as the inspiration for CGI imagery.

The BFG, featuring digitally enhanced shots of Skye

Colin Simpson, who is the Principal Tourism and Film Officer at the Highland Council, said interest in filming movies, TV programmes and commercials in the Highlands was growing year-on-year.

He confirmed there would be filming taking place on Skye later in August, although could not comment on the ‘Transformers’ link.

“We commit to these companies that we will keep their identity confidential,” he said. “We had an enquiry which focuses on more than one location, so there are a few possible places in Skye which could be used.”

Mr Simpson said recent promotion drives by VisitScotland and Highland Council had been successful in attracting film companies to the region.

He added: “There has been a big rise in the number of enquiries we are getting. They vary in size – and can be anything from small scale, one-day commercial shoots, to major film productions like Macbeth.”

Sean Duffy, who plays Macduff in the new production, pictured during filming on Skye last February. Local extras take a break in the background during the shoot at the Quiraing. Photo: Willie Urquhart
Sean Harris, who plays Macduff in ‘Macbeth’ pictured during filming on Skye in 2014. Photo: Willie Urquhart

Mr Simpson said studies had shown the direct benefit from film companies to be worth about £2 million each year to the Highland economy, with additional spin-offs that were “harder to quantify”.

Skye featured in a recent VisitScotland film tourism campaign which focussed on Michael Fassbender and the adaptation of ‘Macbeth’, which was filmed on Skye in 2014.

VisitScotland estimate that 40 per cent of visitors to the UK are inspired to come after seeing a location on film or TV.

The island’s landscapes have also helped Skye feature in cult science-fiction classic ‘Flash Gordon’ (1980); fantasy flick ‘Highlander’ (1986); as well as ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ (1975); ‘Made of Honour’ (2008); ‘Breaking the Waves’ (1996); and ‘Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle’ (2007). The latter is produced by Christopher Young, the man behind BBC Alba’s Gaelic language drama ‘Bannan’, which is also filmed on Skye.