Star Wars sequel trilogy

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Star Wars sequel trilogy
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The Star Wars logo
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
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Music byJohn Williams
Cinematography
Edited by
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companies
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
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Release date
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$445 million (VII, VIII)
Box office$3.401 billion (VII, VIII)

The Star Wars sequel trilogy is the third set of three films in the Star Wars franchise, an American space opera created by George Lucas. It is being produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The trilogy is to consist of episodes VII through IX, and chronologically follows Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983). Lucas had planned a sequel trilogy as early as 1976,[1] but had cancelled it by 1981[2] and produced only the first six episodes. The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in late 2012 and announced plans to produce the sequel films.

The first installment, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, was released in December 2015 in the U.S. It is directed by J. J. Abrams who co-wrote the screenplay with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and other cast members from the original trilogy returned to reprise their roles and co-star alongside Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac.

Unlike the previous two trilogies, whose films were released approximately three years apart and released on Memorial Day weekend, the sequel films are planned to be released two years apart in December. Episode VII: The Last Jedi was released in December 2017, with Rian Johnson as screenwriter and director, and most of the cast returning.

The first two films have grossed a combined $3.4 billion worldwide and were both well-received by critics. The third and final installment, Episode IX, was to be directed by Colin Trevorrow, but he was replaced in September 2017 by Abrams, who is to co-write it with Chris Terrio. The film is scheduled to be released on December 20, 2019.

Early development[edit]

According to Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, in 1976, Star Wars creator George Lucas told him that he planned three Star Wars trilogies. Lucas suggested Hamill could have a cameo role in Episode IX, which he imagined filming by 2011.[1][3] A Time magazine story in March 1978, quoting Lucas, stated there would be ten Star Wars films after The Empire Strikes Back.[4] Gary Kurtz was also aware of proposed story elements for Episode VII to Episode IX before 1980.[5][6] In 1980, at the time of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas said there were seven further Star Wars films he wanted to make. He said he had "twelve-page outlines" for those films.[7] In an interview with Jim Steranko in Prevue magazine published in late 1980, Lucas described how the expansive scope of Star Wars had started with an overlong screenplay:

So, I took the screenplay and divided it into three stories, and rewrote the first one. As I was writing, I came up with some ideas for a film about robots, with no humans in it. When I got to working on the Wookiee, I thought of a film just about Wookiees, nothing else. So, for a time, I had a couple of odd movies with just those characters. Then, I had the other two films, which were essentially split into three parts each, two trilogies. When the smoke cleared, I said, 'This is really great. I'll do another trilogy that takes place after this.' I had three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films. Essentially, there were twelve films.

He added that he had:

…eliminated the odd movies, because they really don't have anything to do with the Star Wars saga. ... I'm just going to keep it pure. It's a nine-part saga that has a beginning, a middle and an end. It progresses over a period of about fifty or sixty years with about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years.[8]

In this interview, Lucas also stated that he had "titles and ten-page story outlines for each of" the nine episodes.[8] In an interview with Gary Kurtz in the same magazine, Kurtz said:

[w]hether or not all nine or twelve films actually get made depends on how George feels as time goes along. The series may happen the way he originally planned or may completely change. As the films are made, each of the stories develops. As each is finished, I think the direction of the saga may change a bit.[9]

In an interview with Starlog magazine published in September 1981, Lucas confirmed that he had the nine-film series plotted, cautioning:

…but it's a long way from the plot to the script. I've just gone through that with Return of the Jedi, and what seems like a great idea when it's described in three sentences doesn't hold together when you try to make five or six scenes out of it. So plots change a lot when they start getting into script form.[10]

Initial story development[edit]

Shortly after 1980's release of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas had already written story treatments for episodes: VI, and the sequel trilogy consisting of episodes VII, VIII and IX. Dale Pollock, George Lucas's biographer, revealed in a 2012 interview, that as part of his biographical research during the 1980s, Lucas had allowed him to read the plot outlines for the at the time comprising 12 planned Star Wars film episodes, albeit on the condition of signing a confidentiality agreement.[11]

Those plans Pollock saw, however were drastically changed after Empire Strikes Back released because Lucas decided not to make the sequel trilogy, and instead finish the story as a trilogy, by ending the storyline with Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. This led Lucas to rework and fully incorporate many of the plots from his discarded sequel trilogy directly into Return of the Jedi. Gary Kurtz the producer of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, opened about those incorporated elements, albeit remained coy about the discarded ideas that could be still used on future sequels. About the elements from such discarded sequel trilogy, that were directly incorporated into Return of the Jedi, Kutz said those were:

  • The focus on Luke Skywalker's journey to becoming the premier Jedi Knight.
  • "Luke's sister", who was originally meant to be a new character (set to appear in Episode VIII). However, by Return of the Jedi's final script, it was decided Leia would be retconned into being Luke's sister (a plot element further set in stone by Episode III: Revenge of the Sith).
  • The first appearance of the Emperor and Luke's ultimate confrontation with him. Both also fully happened within Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Lucas originally planned for both to happen in Episode IX), that specific storyline had been planned as early as pre-1980, according to Gary Kurtz.[5][6][12]

About the 1980s sequel trilogy drafts, and their surviving elements that could still have been used after Return of the Jedi, in 2012, Pollock said:

  • "The three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, 'I want to see these 3 movies.'"
  • They would "involve Luke Skywalker in his 30s and 40s".

Other than Pollock's vague description, no official information about the 1980s script treatments for the sequel trilogy has been released. Comenting in the announcement of Lucas selling Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, and the official announcement of a sequel trilogy. Pollock said that Disney would probably use Lucas's outlines from 1980 as the basis for the sequel trilogy, saying "That's in part what Disney bought."[11]

Cancellation period[edit]

This period lasted from 1983 to the 2010s, when Lucas started to develop his ideas for a sequel trilogy.

Comments made after Return of the Jedi[edit]

After release of Return of the Jedi in 1983, Lucas gave many hints about many of the plot elements from his discarded 1980s script treatments for the sequel trilogy, or what would happen if he were to make a sequel trilogy. Those discarded plots continued to fascinate fans for decades, as many of them were completely unaffected by the conclusion of the original trilogy; thus leaving the sequel trilogy a possibility of using them.

While many ideas seem to have been retained, these two particular ideas were apparently discarded for Lucasfilm's sequel trilogy, under Disney's ownership:

  • The trilogy would deal with the rebuilding of the Republic (Lucas in 1980).[13] This was clearly discarded given how it starts at a time where the Galactic Republic has already been rebuilt
  • Luke would have a romantic relationship with a female love interest (Lucas in 1988).[14] (This idea was seemingly discarded, given that ultimately within the trilogy Luke is alone in exile, and how the prequel trilogy depicted Jedi as celibate).

Lucas' ideas that have been somewhat partially or completely retained by the trilogy that ultimately was made, include:

  • Episode VII would begin roughly 20 (or perhaps 30–40) years after the end of Return of the Jedi (according to Lucas in 1980 and 1982).[8][15] (It starts 30 years after Return of the Jedi).
  • The key actors, Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Ford as Han Solo, and Fisher as Princess Leia, would appear, in their 60s or 70s (Lucas in 1983).[16][17]
  • In Episode IX, Hamill would cameo, "like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope" (according to Hamill, in 2004).[1]
  • "The other one—what happens to Luke afterward—is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If I'm really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke" (Lucas in 1980).[18]
  • R2-D2 and C-3PO would be the only characters who might continue through all nine films (Lucas in 1980, 1981, and 1983).[8][19][20]
  • "It's like a saga, the story of a group of people, a family" (Lucas in 1980).[8]
  • The main theme of the trilogy would be moral and philosophical problems, such as the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned (Lucas in 1983 and 1989).[17][21]

Novels set after Return of the Jedi[edit]

During the early 1990s, Lucas allowed writer Timothy Zahn to write a Star Wars expanded universe novel series set after the events in the original trilogy, which was called the Thrawn Trilogy. This decision meant that Lucas decided to further cancel the sequel trilogy, with many hundreds of subsequent other works set after the original trilogy. From 1997 onwards, Lucas took it a step further, when he ceased to talk about his sequel trilogy ideas. When asked, he would frequently repeat that he had no plans to make the sequel trilogy and that he would not allow other directors to make it.[16][22][23][24][25] He gave various explanations for the apparent abandonment of plans to film the sequel trilogy.

At a 1997 "Special Edition" press conference, Lucas said: "Everyone said, 'Well, are you going to do sequels to the first three?' But that was an afterthought; I don't have scripts on those stories. The only notion on that was, wouldn't it be fun to get all the actors to come back when they're 60 or 70 years old and make three more about them as old people."[16] In a 1997 issue of Star Wars Insider, he said: "The whole story has six episodes.... If I ever went beyond that, it would be something that was made up. I really don't have any notion other than, 'Gee, it would be interesting to do Luke Skywalker later on.' It wouldn't be part of the main story, but a sequel to this thing."[22]

However Lucas was not made with the Star Wars franchise, his attention however was not on the sequel trilogy, as it had shifted towards the story before the original trilogy. Between 1999 and 2005, Lucas would return to the universe he had created, by writing and directing, what would become the prequel trilogy of Episodes I, II, and III. and decided to end the saga as six films. This prevented him from developing a sequel trilogy during that time-frame.

Comments made during the development of the prequel trilogy[edit]

In an interview published in the February 1999 issue of Vanity Fair, Lucas said: "When you see it in six parts, you'll understand. It really ends at part six. I never had a story for the sequels, for the later ones."[26][27] In early May 2002, just before the worldwide release of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and while Lucas was working on the script for Episode III, rumors of Star Wars episodes VII, VIII, and IX were posted on the Internet.[28] In reply, Lucas noted that there would be no Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, since the time feels right to move on:

I am going to do my own movies. I have got some ideas but they are the kind of movies that aren't going to be popular, they're not going to be successful in terms of financing. I have managed to get a fund by doing these (blockbuster) movies that allows me the creative freedom to do things that may never see the light of day—or if they do get distributed they will be on a very limited basis because they are not mass entertainment movies. There are a lot of things I still want to do. I want to do a TV show, some TV movies, mostly they will be historical in nature.[28]

In 1999, when asked about the possibility of someone else making Star Wars films, Lucas said, "Probably not, it's my thing."[26][27] In August 1999, at a press conference in New York City to discuss The Phantom Menace, Lucas described the "nine year commitment" required to make a Star Wars trilogy.[29] In 2002, he said: "Basically what I said as a joke was, 'Maybe when Harrison and Carrie are in their 70s, we'll come back and do another version.' The thing I didn't realize then, and that I do realize now very clearly, is that not only would they be in their 70s, but I would be in my 70s too."[30]

Lucas also noted "Ultimately, the saga will be six films, a 12-hour story. Then people can watch all six films together as they were intended to be seen."[28]

In 2007, Lucas described making the films at that age as "an idea that seemed amusing at the time, but doesn't seem realistic now", and suggested that "off-the-cuff" comments he had made in earlier years had been misconstrued as absolute statements.[31] In 2008, after all six films had been released, Lucas said: "The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends."[32] In another 2008 interview in Total Film, Lucas ruled out anybody else making Star Wars films, and additionally added that the Expanded Universe novels and comics did not lined up with his six films Star Wars saga. Asked if he was happy for new Star Wars films to be made after his death, he said: "I've left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VIIIX. That's because there isn't any story. I mean, I never thought of anything. And now there have been novels about the events after Episode VI, which isn't at all what I would have done with it. The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader. That is the story. Once Vader dies, he doesn't come back to life, the Emperor doesn't get cloned and Luke doesn't get married..."[33]

Renewed development[edit]

Development under Lucas and selling the franchise to Disney[edit]

The trilogy remained in cancelation, until Lucas had a change of heart in the 2010s, when Lucas secretly started writing more ideas for the sequel trilogy and strongly considered directing Episode VII for a May 2015 release.[34] Then Lucas decided not to film the sequel trilogy again. Details from Lucas discarded sequel trilogy were revealed in June 2018, during an interview contained within a companion book to a television series AMC's James Cameron's Story Of Science Fiction. Therein Lucas stated the films "were going to get into a microbiotic world. But there's this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force." Neither of those ideas has been used in the sequel trilogy so far. Lucas additionally stated "If I'd held onto the company I could have done it, and then it would have been done. Of course a lot of fans would have hated it, just like they did (with prequel trilogy film) Phantom Menace and everything but at least the whole story from beginning to end would be told."[35]

Development without Lucas and under Disney ownership[edit]

However, then, Lucas changed his mind again, and decided to fully retire, and allow other filmmakers do the films, instead of himself. Deciding to sell his production company Lucasfilm, along with the rights to Star Wars, to Disney. Speaking after Disney's 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm, Lucas (sitting alongside new Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy), said: "I always said I wasn't going to do any more, and that's true, because I'm not going to do any more. But that doesn't mean I'm unwilling to turn it over to Kathy to do more."[36] Lucas said at some point, he had planned to finish Episode VII, release it in May 2015 and then sell the company afterward. But Disney expressed interest, with Lucas saying "It's better for me to get out at the beginning of a new thing and I can just remove myself. The time is more important to me than the money."[37] Both plot outlines, the one written in the 1980s and the one written in the 2010s, were turned over to Disney chairman Bob Iger around the time that Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.[38]

Previously mentioned veteran writer of Star Wars novels, Zahn was interviewed about the at-the-time just-announced sequel trilogy in 2012, he confirmed the sequel trilogy was never meant to be based on his Thrawn novels nor the expanded universe but said he had been briefed years before on Lucas's plans for the sequels.[39] (Zahn had discussions with Lucas before the first Thrawn novel was published in 1991.)

The original idea as I understood it—and Lucas changes his mind off and on, so it may not be what he's thinking right now—but it was going to be three generations. You'd have the original trilogy, then go back to Luke's father and find out what happened to him, and if there was another seventh, eighth, or ninth film, it would be Luke's children.[39]

As announced by Lucasfilm, the sequel trilogy also meant the end of most of the existing Star Wars expanded universe, so as to give "maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience". Much of the old expanded universe content would continue to be available under the Star Wars: Legends brand, which was created to brand the non-canonical works of the franchise. Only Episodes I-VI would remain canon to the franchise, along The Clone Wars animated film and series. Everything produced after the announcement, would also be considered remain canon.[40]

The first film in the sequel trilogy was titled Episode VII: The Force Awakens and written by Lucas co-writer on two sequels in the original trilogy Lawrence Kasdan, along J.J. Abrams, who also directed it. As noted by Lucas in 2013, the film had seemingly discarded his ideas for Episode VII. During an interview with Cinemablend in January 2014, while promoting the upcoming release of the Lucasfilm animated movie Strange Magic, Lucas revealed that ultimately, Disney chose not to use the story treatments which he had written and turned over with the acquisition, and that the company chose to create brand new stories for the upcoming movies instead: "The ones that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those. So they made up their own. So it's not the ones that I originally wrote [on screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens]".[41]

Some details about Lucas's story treatments from the early-2010s were revealed in the book The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In January 2013 at Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas held the first story briefing about the as-yet untitled Episode VII. Related concept art includes:

  • A female young Jedi Padawan named Kira. (The female Padawan was retained, albeit renamed Rey. The phonetically similar name Qi'ra would be used for the girlfriend of a young Han Solo in the anthology film Solo: A Star Wars Story.)
  • An older Luke Skywalker who, decades after the fall of the Empire, exiled himself to the remote planet where the first Jedi temple was located. The first Jedi temple concept art was bell-shaped, and designed by VFX art director James Clyne. (The idea and designs would later be reworked as the planet Ahch-To, briefly seen at the end of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and explored in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.)
  • Luke would have started off reluctant to train the female Padawan, but eventually have a change of heart and agree to train her. (This idea was fully incorporated in The Last Jedi.)

Lucas seemingly had planned for the conclusion of Luke's story to happen in Episode VII instead of Episode VIII, with Luke dying at the end of the film; this element was instead incorporated into Johnson's film.[42] Conversely, some months later, Mark Hamill contradicted this statement, saying that George Lucas' original vision for the ending of Episode IX was to have Luke dying there instead of a simple cameo, leaving his sister Leia as a Jedi.[43] No plot points such as the Whills or microbiotic worlds have appeared so far.

Films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Producer(s) Status
Star Wars: The Force Awakens[a] December 18, 2015 (2015-12-18) J. J. Abrams Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt Kathleen Kennedy, J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk Released
Star Wars: The Last Jedi[b] December 15, 2017 (2017-12-15) Rian Johnson Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman
Star Wars: Episode IX December 20, 2019 (2019-12-20)[44] J. J. Abrams[45] J. J. Abrams & Chris Terrio[45] Kathleen Kennedy, J. J. Abrams and Michelle Rejwan[45] Filming

Star Wars: The Force Awakens[edit]

About 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker has vanished. The remnants of the Empire have become the First Order, and seek to destroy Luke and the New Republic, while the Resistance opposes, led by princess-turned-general Leia Organa and backed by the Republic. On Jakku, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron obtains a map to Luke's location. Stormtroopers under the command of Kylo Ren, the son of Leia and Han Solo, capture Poe. Poe's droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters a scavenger Rey. Kylo tortures Poe and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187 defects from the First Order, and frees Poe who dubs him "Finn", while both escape in a TIE fighter that crashes on Jakku, seemingly killing Poe. Finn finds Rey and BB-8, but the First Order does too; both escape Jakku in a stolen Millennium Falcon. The Falcon is recaptured by Han and Chewbacca, smugglers again since abandoning the Resistance. They agree to help deliver the map inside BB-8 to the Resistance.

Episode VII began pre-production on October 30, 2012. The screenplay for the film was originally set to be written by Michael Arndt,[46][47][48][49] but time management and creative differences contributed to his departure from the project.[50][51][52][53] On January 25, 2013, J.J. Abrams was officially announced as Episode VII's director and producer, along with producer Bryan Burk and Bad Robot Productions.[54] John Williams was hired to compose the music for the entire sequel trilogy.[55] In October, it was announced that writing duties would be taken over by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.[56]

George Lucas was set to provide Abrams with advice as a creative consultant; however, Lucas had no involvement, with his representative stating that he "ideally would love not to see any footage until he walks into the theater next December. He has never been able to be surprised by a Star Wars film before and he said he was looking forward to it."[38][57][58][59] Production began in April 2014;[60] it was released on December 18, 2015.[61] In the US, the film received a PG-13 rating "for sci-fi action violence" and an M Rating In Australia,[62] the second Star Wars film to receive that classification after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.[63]

The film broke opening weekend box office records in North America with $248 million ($39 million more than previous record holder Jurassic World) and totals of $529 million worldwide, the largest opening ever. The film set another new record by becoming the first movie to break the $1 billion mark in box office sales in just 12 days.[64] It is currently the highest-grossing film of all time in North America and the third highest-grossing film worldwide, unadjusted for inflation.[65]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi[edit]

After an opening battle which overlaps with the end of the previous film, Rey attempts to convince Luke Skywalker to teach her the ways of the Force. She also seeks answers of her past and the origin of the conflict between Luke and his nephew Ben Solo (now Kylo Ren). Unbeknownst to Luke, Rey starts using the Force to communicate with Ren. Meanwhile, Kylo's mother (and Luke's sister) Leia leads Poe, Finn, Rose Tico, BB-8, and the rest of the Resistance as they are pursued by the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke with Kylo as his second in command. After hearing Ren's perspective, Rey disagrees with Luke and despite his warnings leaves him in an attempt to redeem Kylo and achieve peace. To do this, Rey unknowingly helps Kylo assassinate Snoke. However, Ren's intentions are to replace Snoke as Supreme Leader, believing that destroying the Jedi and the Resistance is the only way to achieve peace. Rey must choose between Kylo's offer to rule the galaxy with him, or helping the outnumbered and cornered Resistance survive on Crait.

On November 20, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg would write and produce Episodes VIII and IX,[66] but were later confirmed to be writing standalone films. On June 20, 2014, Looper director Rian Johnson was announced as writer and director of Episode VIII;[67][68][69] he confirmed in August that he would direct.[70] On March 12, 2015, Lucasfilm announced that Johnson would direct Episode VIII with Ram Bergman as producer.[71]

In March 2015, Oscar Isaac confirmed he would reprise his role as Poe Dameron in Episode VIII.[72][73][74] In July, it was reported that Benicio del Toro was being considered for a villain;[75][76] he later confirmed that he had been cast.[77] In September, it was reported that Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tatiana Maslany, Gina Rodriguez, Olivia Cooke, and Bel Powley were on the shortlist for two separate parts.[78][79] Jimmy Vee was cast as R2-D2, succeeding Kenny Baker, who would die the next year.[80][81] Some pre-production filming took place in September 2015 on the island of Skellig Michael, Ireland to take advantage of better weather conditions.[82] Abrams revealed that the film's script was completed in a November 2015 interview with Wired.[83] In December, Hamill, Isaac, Christie, and Boyega were confirmed to reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Poe Dameron, Captain Phasma, and Finn, respectively.[84][85][86][87] Kennedy announced at the December 17 London premiere of The Force Awakens that most of its cast would return for Episode VIII.[88]

On January 20, 2016, Lucasfilm and Disney announced that the release of the film would be delayed from May to December 2017.[89] Three days later, the release date of December 15, 2017 was confirmed, as well as the title Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[90][91][91] Principal photography began in February 2016;[92] additional filming took place in Dubrovnik from March 9 to March 16,[93][94] as well as in Ireland in May.[95] Principal photography wrapped in July 2016.[96][97][98] Carrie Fisher died on December 27, 2016, but had completed filming her role as Leia.[99] Much of the filming took place at Pinewood Studios near London.[100][101] Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman were the producers and J. J. Abrams executive produced.

Star Wars: Episode IX[edit]

John Williams, composer of the scores for the film trilogies, has stated that Episode IX will be his last involvement with the franchise.

In June 2014, Johnson was announced as writing a story treatment for Episode IX,[68] but later stated he had not been involved with writing the film.[102] In August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was announced as the director of Episode IX,[103] and he, with Derek Connolly, began writing a script.[104] In February 2016, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that pre-production of Episode IX had begun.[105]

Following the death of Carrie Fisher in late December 2016, media outlets speculated on whether her role would be recast for Episode IX and whether the absence of her character would affect the film's plot.[106][107][108] A few weeks later, Lucasfilm stated that they would not digitally recreate Fisher's performance for the film.[109] In April 2017, Kathleen Kennedy stated that Fisher would not be in Episode IX,[110] but it was later announced that Fisher would in fact appear using unreleased footage from The Force Awakens.[111] In August, it was reported that Jack Thorne would rewrite the script.[112]

In September 2017, Lucasfilm announced that Trevorrow had stepped down as director,[113][114] and a week later, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would return to direct Episode IX. He would co-write the script with Chris Terrio, in addition to producing the film through his company Bad Robot Productions, with Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan.[45][115] Disney had originally scheduled the film's release for December 2019, in keeping with the previous two sequel trilogy films, but then moved it up to May 24, a time of the year more common to the first six Star Wars episodes.[116] However, after Abrams' return, its release date was moved back to December.[44][117]

On January 10, 2018, it was reported that John Williams will return to compose and conduct the music for Episode IX.[118][119] The next month, Williams announced that it would be the last Star Wars film music he would compose.[120]

On July 6, 2018, it was reported that Keri Russell was in early talks for a role in Episode IX.[121] On July 9, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Billy Dee Williams was confirmed to reprise the role of Lando Calrissian.[122] On July 27, the official casting announcement was made, including the return of Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Mark Hamill, and Anthony Daniels, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant joining the cast. The same announcement confirmed Williams' return and that Carrie Fisher would posthumously portray General Leia Organa using unreleased footage from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.[123][124][125][126] It was announced later the same day that Russell had joined the cast.[127] Principal photography began on August 1, 2018 for a December 20, 2019 release.[128][44]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 93% (399 reviews)[129] 81 (55 reviews)[130] A[131]
Star Wars: The Last Jedi 91% (411 reviews)[132] 85 (56 reviews)[133] A[131]
Average 92% 83 A

George Lucas' response[edit]

Lucas found himself agreeing with the critics who perceived The Force Awakens as too derivative of the original Star Wars trilogy. During an interview with talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose that aired on December 24, 2015, Lucas likened his decision to sell Lucasfilm to Disney to a divorce, and outlined the creative differences between him and the producers of The Force Awakens. Lucas described the previous six Star Wars films as his "children" and defended his vision for them, while criticizing The Force Awakens for having a "retro feel", saying: "I worked very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships – you know, to make it new." Lucas also likened Disney to "white slavers", which drew some criticism. He subsequently apologized for his remark.[134][135]

In 2017, Lucas described the sequel The Last Jedi, as "beautifully made", shortly after its release. The comment was interpreted as Lucas liking the film more than The Force Awakens, even if Lucas was never quoted as explicitly saying as much.[136][137] The previous year, the Disney-produced Star Wars anthology film Rogue One had been released, and it was reported that Lucas also liked it more than The Force Awakens.[138]

Academy Awards[edit]

Academy Awards Film
Star Wars:
The Force Awakens

(2015)
Star Wars:
The Last Jedi

(2017)
Best Original Score Nominated Nominated
Best Sound Editing Nominated Nominated
Best Sound Mixing Nominated Nominated
Best Film Editing Nominated
Best Visual Effects Nominated Nominated

Box office performance[edit]

Film U.S. release date Box office gross All-time Ranking Budget Ref(s)
U.S. and Canada Other territories Worldwide U.S. and Canada Worldwide
Star Wars: The Force Awakens December 18, 2015 $936.7 million $1.132 billion $2.068 billion 1 3 $245 million [139]
Star Wars: The Last Jedi December 15, 2017 $620.2 million $712.3 million $1.332 billion 8 11 $200 million [140][141]
Total $1.557 billion $1.844 billion $3.4 billion $445 million

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Known in long form as Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
  2. ^ Known in long form as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mark Hamill talks Star Wars 7, 8 and 9!". MovieWeb. September 10, 2004. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  2. ^ Kaminski, Michael (2008) [2007]. The Secret History of Star Wars. Legacy Books Press. p. 494. ISBN 978-0-9784652-3-0.
  3. ^ Scott Chitwood, "Mark Hamill Talks Star Wars Epis. 7, 8, & 9", comingsoon.net, September 10, 2004. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  4. ^ "George Lucas' Galactic Empire". TIME. March 6, 1978. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
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