You just watched Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, which hit movie theaters in mid-December, and you’re itching for hints about what’s to come? There are plenty of interesting tidbits emerging about the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, including star Daisy Ridley’s recent remarks on a possible relationship between her character, Rey, and Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), which we’ll discuss below.
The latest trilogy of Star Wars films will conclude with Episode IX, with director J.J. Abrams returning to close out the latest arc of the iconic sci-fi saga after helming 2015’s franchise-relaunching Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. He directs from a script he co-wrote with Academy Award winner Chris Terrio (Argo, Justice League). The sequel trilogy’s final chapter is scheduled to hit theaters December 20, 2019. Recently, the project added some behind-the-scenes talent from one of 2017’s biggest sci-fi films. Here is everything we know so far. Spoilers ahead.
The rich get richer
Whatever your thoughts about Episode VIII, most can agree that it was a visually spectacular film. Scenes like the throne room saber battle and Vice Admiral Holdo’s lightspeed strike were breathtaking, thanks to some excellent art direction and production design. Now, the team for Episode IX has a new, distinguished member: Paul Inglis, who served as art director for the excellent (and gorgeous) Blade Runner 2049.
Thanks to a report from Omega Underground, we know Inglis has been tapped as the supervising art director for Episode IX, where he will work alongside Abrams and the production team to define the film’s aesthetic. Inglis’ previous credits also include Skyfall, Game of Thrones, Prometheus, and Children of Men.
A different kind of ship
Some Star Wars fans saw Rey (Ridley) and Poe (Isaac) meet in The Last Jedi and started hoping it was their meet-cute. The single scene was enough to fuel shipping rumors — so much so that Ridley had to answer a question about it during a promotional event in China. Redditor Niamor89 posted a video (via Sleemo) showing the actress discussing the two Resistance fighters’ possible romantic future. Put simply, she doesn’t really want them to have one.
“It’s wonderful to have relationships that are not romantic,” Ridley said. “I don’t think in films you always need a romantic relationship. I think friend relationships can be romantic in their gestures and their intimacy and all of that. So I think, hopefully — you know, if Rey and Poe get to have some scenes together and stuff — that there will be intimacy, but I think, for me, it doesn’t have to be romantic love.”
If that breaks your heart, know that Ridley hasn’t spoken to Abrams about it yet, so it is still possible that he has other plans.
Location on loch
The next installment of the Star Wars franchise might be headed to the highlands — the county of Argyll in the Scottish Highlands, to be precise.
A report in Scotland’s Daily Record indicates that a new Star Wars movie will begin filming in the western Scottish county of Argyll in June, with shooting expected to place in the historic mountain pass known as the Rest and Be Thankful. Although the initial report suggests that it’s Johnson’s spinoff trilogy that will be filming in Argyll, there’s almost no chance whatsoever that cameras will begin rolling on the first film in that series during 2018 — so if a Star Wars movie does indeed begin shooting in Argyll, it’s likely to be Abrams’ Episode IX.
Parent problems, redux
Although The Last Jedi seemed to offer some resolution regarding the mystery of Rey’s lineage, Johnson indicated in an interview with Huffington Post that fans might not have heard the end of that particular identity crisis.
“Anything’s still open, and I’m not writing the next film. [Abrams and Terrio] are doing it,” said Johnson while discussing the revelation about Rey’s parents that has become one of the most polarizing aspects of the film.
Their story will go on
Don’t let the description of Episode IX as a “concluding chapter” mislead you: The stars of the sequel trilogy aren’t going away.
In a November 2017 interview featured on The Star Wars Show, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy indicated that many of the main characters introduced in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens will continue their stories in Episode IX and beyond the sequel trilogy.
“We’re sitting down now, we’re talking about the next 10 years of Star Wars stories, and we’re looking at, narratively, where that might go,” Kennedy said. “Future stories beyond Episode IX with these new characters — Rey, Poe, Finn, BB-8 — but we’re also looking at working with people who are interested in coming into the Star Wars world and taking us places we haven’t been yet. That’s exciting too because it’s a vast galaxy far, far away.”
Meanwhile, Solo goes Solo
The next dose of Star Wars may feel far, far away, but don’t worry — LucasArts won’t leave us swinging in the wind. While we wait for Episode IX, we’ll be offered a second “anthology” movie for the sci-fi franchise, following 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Solo, everyone’s favorite shoot-first smuggler and all-around rogue, is getting his very own movie in 2018. It will explore his life in the years leading up to his fateful encounter with Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in a Mos Eisley cantina. If past timing holds true, we should be getting our first look into Han Solo’s backstory by the end of January 2018.
Going back to the beginning
After original Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow exited the project in September 2017 due to creative differences with the studio, it didn’t take long for Disney and Lucasfilm to find a new filmmaker to helm the movie — and he was a familiar face to fans of the franchise.
Abrams was named the new director of the film just a week after the post was vacated, with the film’s new co-writer Terrio was also announced at that time.
“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Kennedy in a statement accompanying the announcement on StarWars.com.
Given the success of Abrams’ franchise-relaunching sequel The Force Awakens, the decision to bring him back for Episode IX seems like a safe bet for the studio.
Released in 2015, The Force Awakens went on to break a slew of box office records, earning $936.6 million in U.S. theaters and more than $2 billion worldwide. It’s currently the highest-grossing movie of all time domestically, and in third place on the all-time worldwide box office charts (after Avatar and Titanic). The film also received overwhelmingly positive reviews from professional critics and fans alike, and currently ranks third (after Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strike Back and the franchise-starting Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope) and among the best-reviewed films in the franchise on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
Release date, updated
Not too long after Abrams was announced as the director of Episode IX, the film also received a new release date.
Star Wars: Episode IX will officially hit theaters December 20, 2019, several months later than its original release date of May 24, 2019.
The new release date has the film arriving in theaters just a week after the sequel to Wonder Woman, and on the same weekend as a live-action feature based on the popular Broadway musical Wicked. It also allows the film to carry on the tradition set by the two serialized installments of the Star Wars franchise that immediately precedes it, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, which were both assigned December premieres.
The Leia question
The death of Carrie Fisher in December 2017 was felt throughout the film’s fandom and left big questions about how the studio would handle her character in the remaining sequels.
“Obviously, with Carrie having passed away, it shook everybody,” Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly in April 2017. “We pretty much started over.”
Fisher had finished filming most of her scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi before her death, but the part she was to play in Episode IX had to be revised significantly. It was initially suggested by Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, that the studio had enough existing footage of the actress to use in Episode IX.
“How do you take her out of it? And the answer is, you don’t,” he said. “She’s as much a part of it as anything, and I think her presence now is even more powerful than it was, like Obi-Wan — when the saber cuts him down he becomes more powerful. I feel like that’s what’s happened with Carrie. I think the legacy should continue.”
However, several months later — likely after Abrams and Terrio had begun hashing out the story for the film with the studio — Kennedy indicated (in an interview with Good Morning America) that Fisher was no longer expected to appear in Episode IX.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 14, 2017
“We had not written the script [for Episode IX] yet, but we regrouped and started over again in January,” said Kennedy of the studio’s plans for Episode IX. “Sadly, Carrie will not be in IX. We’ll see a lot of her in VIII, which is great.”
Updated on February 13: Added that Paul Inglis joined the crew as its art director.