When is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker released in cinemas? Who's in the cast and is there a trailer?
When is the concluding film released? Who’s starring in it? And what happened to its director? Check out our full guide now
It’s fair to say that Star Wars Episode IX is one of the most eagerly-anticipated movies in history, with the upcoming film set to cap off the Skywalker saga after decades of onscreen storytelling.
Here's everything you need to know about Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
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When is Star Wars Episode IX released in cinemas?
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.
It's recently been revealed that the film will have a 155 minute runtime (that's 2 hours and 35 minutes if maths isn't your thing), making it the longest Star Wars movie to date.
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.
How can I get tickets for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker?
Following the release of the final Rise of Skywalker trailer, Disney launched a handy website that allows you to book now. You can check out the closest available cinema to you and get tickets here.
What does the title for Star Wars Episode IX mean?
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.
JJ Abrams has weighed in on his choice of title with ET Live, although his reasoning is predictably vague:
"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."
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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer
Feast your eyes on the final trailer ahead of the film's release in December... be prepared. Fans think it hints at C-3PO's death...
The two minute clip comes months after director JJ Abrams unveiled the first teaser trailer for Episode IX – and what a tease it was.
Beginning with the voice of Luke Skywalker, this is clearly set up as the beginning of the end of the Skywalker saga.
“We’ve passed on all we know,” Mark Hamill's Luke intones. “A thousand generations live in you now.”
While the teaser contains an incredible array of hints and callbacks – including the first look at Billy Dee Williams' return as Lando Calrissian – the biggest reveal is saved until last.
That cackle? Yes, you heard it right: the Emperor has returned! Palpatine a.k.a. Darth Sidious a.k.a. actor Ian McDiarmid appears to be part of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
"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 new clip featuring Adam Driver's Kylo Ren has confirmed that Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) and Snoke (Andy Serkis) will also return, at least in voice...
A "special look" (basically a teaser with some clips from older Star Wars movies in too) has also been 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!).
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.
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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?
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. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the star said, “The parents thing is not satisfied — for her and for the audience.
“That’s something she’s still trying to figure out — where does she come from? It’s not that she doesn’t believe it, but she feels there’s more to the story.”
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."
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.
However, star Daisy Ridley has shared just how emotional her final scene's filming was, and it sounds like we might need to bring the tissues.
"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?
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...
Who’s directing the next Star Wars film?
Star Wars Episode IX will be brought to the screen by JJ Abrams, who helmed The Force Awakens in 2015 and successfully brought the franchise back to cinemas.
“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.
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.
A statement from LucasFilm claimed that all parties had “mutually chosen to part ways” – though Trevorrow has 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.”
Star Wars boss Kathleen Kennedy has also suggested that Trevorrow "was at a huge disadvantage not having been a part of Force Awakens and part of those early conversations" about the direction of the trilogy.
“Like any development process, it was only in the development that we’re looking at a first draft and realising that it was perhaps heading in a direction that many of us didn’t feel was really quite where we wanted it to go," she added.
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.
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.
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."
It's also been revealed that The Americans star Keri Russell is playing a new female character – "masked scoundrel Zorri Bliss" – and will be joined by fellow franchise newcomers Dominic Monaghan (Lost), Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth) and Richard E Grant, who play the menacing Allegiant General Pryde alongside Domhnall Gleeson's General Hux.
Grant had previously shot down rumours he could be playing fan-favourite Star Wars character Grand Admiral Thrawn.
“I hadn't thought of it like that, but the character is just mine!” he told RadioTimes.com. "I don't know about the action figure or whether there will be one, but this is pretty amazing.”
Ackie, meanwhile has been revealed to be playing Jannah (above), a character with the following description:
"From an organic moon, Jannah leads a band of warriors, ready to charge against the forces of the First Order."
News also broke a while ago that Doctor Who star Matt Smith was joining the film in an undisclosed "key role," which plenty of fans were quick to theorise about – but Smith has now stated that rumours of his inclusion were untrue, and that he won't be in the film after all.
“As far as I can tell, I’m definitely not [in it],” he said in an interview with LA Times - though we're not so sure he's telling the truth, especially now that fans claim to have found the alien character he could be playing...
Star Wars Episode IX will be released in UK cinemas on the 19th December