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In 2019, Star Wars: Episode IX blasts off into theaters, with director J.J. Abrams returning to close out this chapter in the Star Wars canon. Fans have set high expectations for the forthcoming Episode IX, the first Star Wars installment to be filmed following the tragic death of Carrie Fisher in 2016, as well as the follow-up to Rian Johnson’s acclaimed (if divisive)The Last Jedi. Here’s everything we know so far about the highly anticipated Disney trilogy-capper.
Disney and Lucasfilm initially set Episode IX for a May 2019 release, with Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow set to helm. Frequent Trevorrow collaborator Derek Connolly was set to script the film, based off a story treatment by The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson.
Those plans came to a high-profile halt in September 2017, when Lucasfilm announced that it had parted ways with Trevorrow. The company’s statement did not explain why Trevorrow had departed the project, although some have speculated that the move came in response to clashes between Trevorrow and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, as well as the disastrous critical and commercial response to Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry.
Soon after, it was announced that The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams was returning to direct and co-write Episode IX, alongside Chris Terrio (Argo), and that the film’s release date had moved, as many had expected, to Dec. 20, 2019.
In March 2018, legendary film composer John Williams announced that his work on Star Wars: Episode IX would mark his last score for the franchise.
On Aug. 1, director and co-writer Abrams tweeted that production had begun on Episode IX. In his post, Abrams acknowledged the late Carrie Fisher, and also saluted George Lucas and The Last Jedi’s Johnson for their work bringing the saga up to this point.
Speaking in the December issue of Empire Magazine, star John Boyega confirmed that Episode IX will take place one year after the events of The Last Jedi, as reported by British outlet The Independent. This time jump would buck the example of that eighth installment, which kicked off just moments after the events of The Force Awakens.
On July 27, 2018, Lucasfilm announced the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX, confirming reports from earlier that month of cast newcomers, as well as a few surprise returnees. The announcement also revealed that Episode IX would begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on Aug. 1, 2018, as director and co-writer Abrams would share that day on his Twitter.
Returning sequel trilogy cast members include Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (Gen. Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) and Billie Lourd (Lt. Connix), daughter of the late Carrie Fisher.
They are joined by newcomers Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant and Keri Russell, all in as-yet-unnamed roles, as well as Star Wars veterans Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian). Hamill’s announced return came as a surprise for many fans, given his character’s fate at the end of The Last Jedi. Williams is reprising his role as Lando Calrissian in Episode IX, which will mark his first appearance in the Star Wars films since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
The announcement also revealed that the role of Princess-turned-General Leia Organa would once again be played by the late Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for The Force Awakens. At the time, Paste’s Kenneth Lowe reflected on the choice to bring back Fisher’s beloved Leia Organa using unreleased footage, calling the decision “a mix of good and bad news with a side of uncertainty.”
“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher. Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us,” said Abrams in the statement upon the announcement. “We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie [Lourd], we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
In late August, it was reported that Abrams’ Lost collaborator Dominic Monaghan had signed on for Episode IX in an undisclosed role. He was joined a few days later by former Doctor Who star Matt Smith, also in an undisclosed role.
Star Wars: Episode IX is currently slated to open on Dec. 20, 2019.
Lucasfilm has not yet revealed the official subtitle of Episode IX.
Director J.J. Abrams revealed on Feb. 15 that Episode IX had wrapped principal photography, also sharing an emotional cast photo from the set:
The first teaser trailer for (and title of) Episode IX were revealed during Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on April 12. See the first footage from The Rise of Skywalker below.
Be sure to check back for further updates on Star Wars: Episode IX. You can revisit our ranking of the Star Wars films while you’re waiting.