The next instalment of the Star Wars saga will be released in UK cinemas on 19th December 2019, returning to the modern films’ traditional Christmas release following spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story’s May outing this year.
Originally, Episode IX was set to be released in summer 2019, but it was delayed due to behind-the-scenes issues (see below), and the new release date means fans will have to wait longer than ever between films– a full 19 months – before they get their next fix of Jedi action.
What does the title for Star Wars Episode IX mean?
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
Disney confirmed at the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago that the title of Star Wars Episode IX is… The Rise of Skywalker.
Who that specifically refers to is quite another mystery. In The Last Jedi, for example, Kylo Ren told Rey that – far from being descended from the Skywalker dynasty as many fans had suspected – her parents were nothing more than “filthy junk traders who sold you off for drinking money”.
Does that mean therefore that the ‘Skywalker’ rising in the title is Kylo (pictured) himself? After all, he is a Skywalker, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa (Luke’s sister).
Or is The Rise of Skywalker set to turn that line from Kylo on its head and reveal that Rey is a Skywalker after all?
Maybe ‘Skywalker’ will become a title, the way that ‘Jedi’ or ‘Sith’ has been in the past. At this stage, it’s all thrillingly unclear.
“The title feels like it’s the right title for this movie and I know that it’s provocative and asks a bunch of questions, but I think when you see the movie, you’ll see how it’s intended and what it means.”
“I will say that with the Emperor around, he’s not going to be your, you know, the cuddly pal,” JJ Abrams teased (via MTV). “I can’t wait for you to see how that plays out, but he’s [there] for a reason.”
A few months later, a new “special look” (basically a teaser with some clips from older Star Wars movies in too) was released, which appears to show Daisy Ridley’s Rey turning to the Dark Side complete with a VERY snazzy double-bladed lightsaber (fully articulated and adjustable! 43 parts!).
Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
The footage also showed a battle between Rey and Kylo Ren on the ruins of the second Death Star on Endor, a new red-eyed look for C-3PO, a strange alien festival and a return for Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa – but let’s be frank, we’re all just excited at that lightsaber.
Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)Disney
I mean, look at it! So pretty.
Of the notion that her character might turn, Ridley told Yahoo! Movies: “I mean, the evidence is on the screen. Take that evidence as you will. But there’s no smoke without fire.”
Just misdirection, or a big hint that Rey is heading down a dark path?
As for Threepio’s red eyes, speaking on The Star Wars Show, Anthony Daniels has hinted that it’s part of a surprising and “magnificent piece of storytelling” that places the character “front and centre” of the film.
What will happen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.
Here’s the official synopsis (which gives away precious little): “Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in U.S. theaters on December 20.”
Daisy Ridley recently said that the “question” surrounding Rey’s parentage “is answered” in The Rise of Skywalker – but we shouldn’t neccessarily expect the film to retcon The Last Jedi’s reveal that her mother and father were no-one special. “The story that we’re telling, the story that we started to conceive when we did The Force Awakens was allowed to continue,” JJ Abrams told ET Canada. “Episode VIII didn’t really derail anything that we were thinking about.”
Ridley has also suggested that The Last Jedi will be quite different tonally to its two predecessors.
“Genre-wise, it’s different from the other two, which will become clear when the film comes out,” she said. “It’s quite emotional. There’s a different drive than the previous two films, but there’s a lot of fun. I really missed John (Boyega) during the last one, but we’re back together and now Oscar (Isaac) is part of it. To me, it felt like kids going on an adventure.”
For his part, Oscar Isaac has hinted that The Rise of Skywalker might also reveal some more of Poe’s backstory. “I think people will be surprised to see that he has a bit more of an ambiguous past,” he said. “He’s not just kind of that squeaky-clean flyboy.”
The plot of the film is mostly shrouded in mystery, though the trailer appears to hint at a mission to the destroyed Second Death Star for Rey, Finn, Poe and their friends, the proper debut of villains the Knights of Ren and a new droid pal for BB-8.
“The secrecy is definitely worth it,” Richard E Grant told us. “If you’re a Star Wars fan, and I am, then knowing what’s coming in this is quite something.
“I absolutely understand why they’re so secretive about it, because it’s very exciting.”
“What was brilliant [about The Last Jedi] was that it was unexpected,” Domnhall Gleeson, who plays First Order senior Officer General Hux told RadioTimes.com.
“And I’ve got a feeling that what JJ does may also be unexpected.
“I wasn’t expecting [Hux’s comedy] to be the way it went in VIII, at all. It really surprised me. And I’d say rather than played for laughs, it was written for laughs. We did it with an eye on the comic elements of it.”
Gleeson went on to clarify that he doesn’t know for sure what “unexpected” things we could, er, expect – at the time, he had yet to see a script for the new film, which has since wrapped – but he was eager to see what Abrams had lined up for him in particular.
“I’ve got no idea because I haven’t read a script,” he said. “I have no idea what direction he’ll take it in, or even if he’ll use me. So I’m hoping that if I’m in the next one, I’ll get to do [some more comedy].”
“Because JJ’s writing it, I know that if I’m in it I’ll get to do something exciting,” Gleeson concluded. “So that would be nice.”
Gleeson’s also described the final entry in the Skywalker saga as “a page turner, and it was different from what I had thought. I think it’s going to be cool.” (via Collider)
Director JJ Abrams said during the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago that the film does not pick up immediately after the events of Episode VIII.
“This is an adventure that the group goes on together,” Abrams said. “One of the great things about the movie was the dynamic between the characters. They are the most wonderful together, and that’s the thing I’m most looking forward for you to seeing.”
More recently, co-writer Chris Terrio confirmed that two key mysteries will be solved in The Rise of Skywalker: ‘who is Rey? and ‘how strong is the force?’.
In an interview with Empire, Terrio explained: “We kept coming back to ‘Who is Rey?’, and how can we give the most satisfying answer to that not only factually – because obviously people are interested in whether there’s more to be learned of Rey’s story – but more importantly who is she as a character?
“How will she find the courage and will and inner strength and power to carry on what she’s inherited?”
He added: “[‘How strong is the Force?’] sounds a little simple, but actually when you get down to it, that is a sort of Zen Koan that we would really meditate on – not literally in yoga poses or anything, but like we would discuss, ‘What is the Force and how strong is the Force?’
“Those two things were really important.”
How will Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker end?
Even more than the basic plot, the ending to Episode IX – and by extension, the Star Wars saga as we’ve known it – remains tightly under wraps.
“I just can’t remember [my final day],” Ridley confessed on People’s Couch Surfing video series.
“I remember JJ [Abrams] making a speech and I sort of remember a couple things he said, like I’m always on time, which I appreciate him saying,” she said.
“And then he went to pass me the mic and I was the last person to wrap. It was my final shot and I’m just crying in the shot… It was incredibly dramatic.”
Are the lightsabers changing in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?
Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (LucasFilm, HF)
Big news, lightsaber fans! Brand-new footage reveals Rey wielding a double-bladed red lightsaber in the second trailer for the film. But does this Darth Maul-style weapon (and her black robe) indicate a turn to the dark side? Hmm…
According to Daisy Ridley, the series’ iconic weapons are also emphasising the “light” in lightsabers more in Episode IX, dropping the weight of the Jedi energy swords to allow for faster fight scenes.
“The interesting thing about this film is that we concentrate more on the fact that [the lightsabers] are light,” Ridley told Wired in a new video interview.
“Because the [old] lightsabers were so heavy, as Eunice [Huthart] said, who is our new stunt coordinator, that it was more like broadsword fighting, which isn’t technically what it’s supposed to be because lightsabers are supposed to be light, by nature.
“So they actually made the lightsabers lighter for us. We, in this film, have, perhaps one of the most epic fights in Star Wars.”
Be prepared for a LOT of little kids hitting each other with plastic tubes in imitation this Christmas…
“With The Force Awakens, JJ delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.
It feels impossible, but today wrapped photography on Episode IX. There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast. I’m forever indebted to you all. pic.twitter.com/138AprtFuZ
Originally the film was set to be directed by Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow, but the writer/director left the project last year leading Abrams to step in and the film’s release date be pushed back a few months.
It’s unclear why Trevorrow left – a statement from LucasFilm claimed that all parties had “mutually chosen to part ways” – though he has recently commented on the experience, revealing that he’d pitched his story to both George Lucas and Mark Hamill.
“I don’t want to talk too much about it because I don’t want to affect the way that fans get to see these films,” Trevorrow told Empire.
“When we were kids, these movies came to us from far away. They were a gift. And the more we talk about how they’re made, the more it reveals that they’re just movies. But they’re not just movies, they’re more than that.
“Beyond that, I got the opportunity to tell a story that is a celebration of everything I believe in, I got to tell it to George Lucas and I got to tell it to Luke Skywalker, and those are experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Who wrote Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?
Trevorrow and his frequent collaborator Derek Connolly wrote the first draft of the script, before Harry Potter and the Cursed Child scribe Jack Thorne was hired to rewrite it.
Since Abrams took over, he has reportedly thrown out the first script and written a new one with Academy award-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio, best known for his work on Argo, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.
Who stars in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?
Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran, Domnhall Gleeson and Lupita Nyong’o are all confirmed to return for the final film, with the likes of Joonas Suotomo (Chewbacca) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) in tow.
But the big news among the returning cast is the inclusion of Carrie Fisher whose character General Organa (better known as Princess Leia) will play a role in Episode IX thanks to previously unused footage shot for The Force Awakens.
General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
The late actress will appear in the film – with the blessing of her daughter, Billie Lourd – alongside original trilogy stars Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams, who was long rumoured to be reprising his role as Lando Calrissian.
Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.
The film will include scenes in which Leia and Lourd’s character, Lieutenant Kaydel Connix, touch and interact with one another, something that Lourd reportedly asked director Abrams to include while he was writing the film.
“I purposely had written her character in scenes without Carrie, because I just didn’t want it to be uncomfortable for her,” Abrams said in an interview with Vanity Fair. However, according to the director, Lourd said: “I want to be in scenes with her. I want it for my children when I have kids. I want them to see.”
Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, also told RadioTimes.com that Fisher would approve her appearance in the film: “Something tells me she’d get a real kick out of the fact she had a hit movie years after she left us,” he said. “That was just her.” You can read our full interview with Hamill here.
Fisher’s brother Todd has also said that the final product will “look like it was meant to be”.“There’s a lot of minutes of footage,” Fisher told Good Morning America. “I don’t mean just outtakes. This is unused, new content that could be woven into the storyline.
“That’s what’s going to give everybody such a great kick. It’s going to look like it was meant to be. Like it was shot yesterday. We’re not allowed to talk about the details of anything. But we’re thrilled at what’s been done.”
And speaking at D23 Expo in August 2019, JJ Abrams told the audience: “The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story. When we were talking about this story we realised we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia.”
Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.