JJ Abrams began a new chapter in the Star Wars story with 2015’s The Force Awakens. This new sequel trilogy will end in 2019 with
Colin Trevorrow Abrams’s Episode 9.
Episode 8: The Last Jedi is out now, but there are still plenty of mysteries surrounding the 2019 follow-up to Rian Johnson’s revolutionary movie.
Episode 9 was previously scheduled for May 24, 2019 in the US, but has now been bumped back to Star Wars‘ traditional Christmas release window.
Episode 9 will now premiere on December 20, 2019, giving new director JJ Abrams more time to work on the final instalment in this new trilogy. In the UK the movie is set to open the day before – Thursday December 19 2019.
It’s worth remembering that Disney’s new Star Wars films have been subject to some serious rescheduling already. The Force Awakens slipped from a summer 2015 release to December, and The Last Jedi was originally announced for May 2017 before also settling on a winter premiere. So the delay for Episode 9 hardly comes as a surprise.
Filming was initially set to begin in January 2018 but it’s currently planned for July 2018.
Stars Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Anthony Daniels (C-3P0) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) are all returning, as is Domhnall Gleeson as crazy old General Hux. Kelly Marie Tran also returns as Rose, even if she may never return to social media after being trolled.
Hamill was previously being cagey about his potential role in the movie (naturally) but the official casting announcement meant he could stop trolling fans with the state of his beard.
Having originally been touted as a potential new cast member for Star Wars Episode 9, The Americans star Keri Russell has now finally been added to the cast (even though she was left off the official casting list). Russell previously worked with Abrams on Mission: Impossible III in 2006, so the director knows she can handle the high-intensity action sequences.
Joining her in Episode IX are Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, with Laura Dern (Amilyn Holdo) and Benicio del Toro (‘DJ’) seemingly sidelined from Episode VIII alongside the recently deceased Sith lord Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).
Richard E. Grant has denied he’s playing the main baddie in Episode 9. Fans had hoped he was playing a character from Star Wars spin-off media called Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was introduced in the 1991 novel Heir to the Empire. Grant himself even liked a tweet suggesting as much.
Grant couldn’t tell the Radio Times much about his involvement in Star Wars Episode IX, other than that he’s most definitely not playing Thrawn.
“I’m not playing the Star Wars character you just mentioned,” he told the publication. “I’m not allowed to tell you anything. Otherwise I would be fired. It’s a complete lockdown on any information whatsoever.”
Carrie Fisher’s brother Todd Fisher originally revealed that the late Star Wars legend would somehow return as General Leia Organa – possibly using Rogue One‘s unsettling CGI reconstruction technology – but this was denied by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
It has since been confirmed to be true by the official casting announcement and will apparently use never-before-seen footage of Carrie Fisher as Leia.
“They have arranged it in the script and what was shot to bring her into the story in a way as if they filmed it yesterday,” Todd Fisher said. “Isn’t that magical, that the things that she shot a few years ago are frozen in time, so to speak, and been reborn into the final Star Wars where she is the character that needed to continue?”
The footage was originally thought to be unused material from The Force Awakens, but has since been confirmed to include additional footage of the iconic actress from The Last Jedi too. Speaking on the Resistance Broadcast podcast, ABC’s Clayton Sandell discussed how JJ Abrams’ trilogy concluder will integrate Leia Organa.
Sandell said the clips will “not only [come] from The Force Awakens, but apparently they are also using unused footage from The Last Jedi” but when asked how many minutes material they have to use, replied: “I can’t tell you that.”
Following the announcement that Fisher will posthumously appear in Episode 9, Hamill shared two photos of the pair together and a touching tribute: “It’s bittersweet facing my final chapter without her – she is simply irreplaceable. I’m finding solace in the fact that she won’t BE replaced”.
This trilogy closer was also tipped to bring back an all-time classic character, having already returned him to the screen in a younger version in the prequel movie Solo.
Rumours of Lando Calrissian’s return started when actor Billy Dee Williams pulled out of the Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo in September because of a “film schedule conflict”.
Deadline reports that Heroes alum Grunberg is all set to suit up again for director JJ Abrams in Episode IX, which will be a reunion for actor and director, since Abrams casts Grunberg in most of his projects as a good-luck charm of sorts. They’ve worked together on Lost, Alias, Felicity and Star Trek.
Although the site says his character has yet to be confirmed, it would seem very odd indeed for him to be playing anyone but X-wing pilot Temmin ‘Snap’ Wexley, who was on the first line of defence against General Hux and his forces on the Starkiller base in 2015’s The Force Awakens.
Grunberg isn’t the only actor reuniting with Abrams. Star Wars Episode 9 has cast Lost star Dominic Monaghan, taking him from a faraway island to a faraway galaxy.
The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Monaghan has been cast in an undisclosed role and the actor said: “The galaxy far, far away has had almost as much influence as the one I live in, so I am delighted to be involved.”
Jurassic World director Trevorrow was on board to direct, but in September 2017 Disney and Lucasfilm confirmed they had parted ways with the director, saying their visions for the project differed. It has now been confirmed that Abrams will be back to complete the trilogy he started in 2015.
Of the upcoming Star Wars movies, he said “we have to take them places that they haven’t gone, and that’s sort of our responsibility”.
“The opportunity to sort of take what we had learned, to take the feeling of who these characters are and what they are and give them a final chapter that felt in the spirit of what we begun?” he added later. “It was too delicious of an opportunity to pass up.”
Abrams said he wants to “go beyond, and do better than we did in 7” – which hopefully means that Episode 9 won’t be a clone of Return of the Jedi in the way his Force Awakens duplicated the plot of A New Hope.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child writer Jack Thorne was brought on in summer 2017 to work on a new draft of the Episode 9 script, but the last word is that Abrams and Batman v Superman‘s Chris Terrio are writing the film. We don’t know yet if they are starting completely from scratch or not.
Paul Inglis – whose credits include Skyfall, Game of Thrones, Prometheus, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Children of Men, Blade Runner 2049 – has signed on as art director for Episode 9.
An official synopsis is a long way off, so all we can guess about Episode 9 follows on from the end of The Last Jedi (and for those who want the full spoilers on how The Last Jedi sets up Episode 9, click here).
However, Lucasfilm has confirmed that Star Wars: Episode IX will be the final movie installment based around the Skywalker clan. So this film draws a saga to a close that started when George Lucas created the series over 40 years ago.
Naturally, Carrie Fisher’s death has had an impact on the plans for the next episode, even though she will appear using unused footage. The director broke our hearts with Trevorrow’s confession that she was intended to be at the very centre of Episode 9.
“The minute she finished [shooting The Last Jedi], she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of 9!’,” he told Vanity Fair. “Because Harrison [Ford] was front and centre on 7, and Mark is front and centre on 8.
“She thought 9 would be her movie. And it would have been.”
Kennedy added that they “pretty much started over” following Fisher’s death, although the script had not been finalised at that point. Trevorrow promised that Leia “will be handled with love and respect, and all of the soul that Carrie Fisher deserves”, and we’re sure that goes equally for Abrams.
Meanwhile, Oscar Isaac has revealed the state of the Resistance in Star Wars: Episode 9, describing them as basically being reduced to “guerrilla” fighters in the movie.
That’s as to be expected: the Resistance were down to one ship as they were pummelled by the First Order at the end of The Last Jedi, though the movie was left on a note of hope.
JJ Abrams was officially back at work in a galaxy far, far away on 1 August 2018, and he posted the first official set photo to prove it to fans.
He also paid tribute once more to Carrie Fisher: “Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go. Grateful for @rianjohnson and special thanks to George Lucas for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part. #IX”
Since then, photos from the set have shown John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) and what appears to be newcomer Naomi Ackie filming scenes on horses kitted out with mo-cap markings on them.
What’s next for Star Wars?
Between The Last Jedi and Episode 9, the untitled Han Solo-starring spin-off movie will be arriving. A third spin-off is yet to be revealed, but is fully expected to arrive in 2020. Kennedy has said that it should be announced in summer 2017.
Beyond that? Disney CEO Bob Iger has said that the films could continue into the 2030s.
“We’ve got a creative team actually thinking about what could be another decade and a half of Star Wars stories,” he told students at USC during a Q&A. “It’s kind of mind-blowing spending an afternoon with a creative team thinking about that.”
To be honest, there’s no doubt in our minds that Star Wars is in it for the long haul, and that Disney will continue to be make these movies while there is still an appetite for them. On top of the spin-offs, one way or another they will push forward with the main narrative, even if the focus moves away from the Skywalker clan.
Not for a while, buddy. The first teaser for The Force Awakens went up about a year before the film came out, so don’t expect Episode IX‘s any time sooner than late 2018.
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