‘Star Wars: Episode IX’: Everything We Know (and Don’t Know)

Episode IX of the Star Wars saga may not be due until 2019, but it’s never too early to start looking for rumors. For now, confirmed plot points are scarce. What we do know are details that give us a framework of what to expect. When it comes to the three films in the new trilogy, it seems we know less and less about each successive installment. Thankfully, the state of modern Hollywood makes it easy enough to collect valuable intel.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought back much of the original Star Wars cast, while tagging the next generation to join them, all under the steady hand of J.J. Abrams. Directing and writing duties for Star Wars: The Last Jedi fell to Rian Johnson, with a handful of cast members officially confirmed leading into the film’s December 2017 release.

Star Wars: Episode IX, though, remains largely an enigma. Even so, it hasn’t stopped the internet from gathering information to get us excited.

1. J.J Abrams will replace Colin Trevorrow as director

J.J. Abrams in 2013

J.J. Abrams | Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

Colin Trevorrow came from fairly humble beginnings, having first risen to prominence on the back of indie darling Safety Not Guaranteed. After that, Jurassic World‘s record-breaking weekend put him on a whole new tier in the realm of directors. He was going to be responsible for neatly tying the sequel trilogy up, and if his past projects are any indicator, he was more than up to the challenge. However, on Sept. 5, 2017, Lucasfilm announced that Trevorrow will no longer be helming Episode IX:

Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.

The announcement came as quite a shock to Star Wars fans, especially considering that Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed in February 2016 that production for Episode IX had already kicked off.

But a replacement has already been brought on board. Abrams, who previously directed and co-wrote The Force Awakens, has been confirmed as the new director of the project. 

2. Abrams will be co-writing the screenplay with Chris Terrio

Chris Terrio accepts his Academy Award in 2013

Chris Terrio | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

There are only two people who have penned more than one Star Wars screenplay: creator George Lucas, and Lucas’ early writing partner, Lawrence Kasdan.

Episode IX will see Abrams enter into an elite class, having now also been tagged as the writer for the movie. In addition to helming the film, Abrams will co-write the script alongside Chris Terrio (who won an Oscar for Argo, then worked on Batman v. Superman and Justice League).

3. Confirmed cast members (or lack thereof)

Rey bent over, sweaty and panting

Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi | Lucasfilm

With the confirmation that Daisy Ridley’s character will be spanning the entirety of the new trilogy, it’s pretty clear that her role will be integral to the yet-to-be-fleshed-out story. Ridley is largely a newcomer, and if she plays her cards right, Star Wars could do the same thing for her that it did for Harrison Ford back in the late ’70s and early-’80s.

It seems curious that Ridley’s co-star, John Boyega, wouldn’t have similar job security, but it could just be that word has yet to leak concerning the rest of the cast.

That said, Mark Hamill recently let it slip that after The Last Jedihe will be “out of work,” going on to clarify that it merely meant the film was wrapping (not that he was done with the Star Wars franchise). We currently have no confirmation as to whether he’ll be in Episode IX, but it seems likely that he might be in for the full run of the new trilogy.

4. Episode IX will be getting a May 2019 release date

The "IX" logo for Star Wars: Episode IX

Star Wars: Episode IX | Lucasfilm

Breaking from the regular December release schedule, Episode IX will hit theaters May 24, 2019. If you’ll remember, The Last Jedi was also slated for a May release, until it was pushed back to December 2017, following production delays.

Episode IX‘s release date leaves just five months between Han Solo in 2018 and the final installment of the new trilogy, making it so fans won’t have to wait nearly as long between films.

5. There won’t be a CGI version of Leia

Princess Leia in her trademark white robe and buns, looking off into the distance

Carrie Fisher, digitally recreated in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

Before the tragic death of Carrie Fisher, Lucasfilm had big plans for General Leia Organa in Episode IX. Sadly, she passed away before principal photography for the film began, leading to rumors that the studio might do what they did in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and recreate her digitally.

Thankfully, Lucasfilm wasted no time in refuting those rumors, stating that they have “no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.” Fisher’s last appearance in the franchise will be in The Last Jedi, having completed filming for the movie in the summer of 2016.

6. It will be shot on film, not digital

J.J. Abrams and Daisy Ridley standing on set in a dessert speaking

J.J. Abrams and Daisy Ridley | Lucasfilm

Continuing the push to bring old-school filmmaking back to the Star Wars saga, director Colin Trevorrow has announced that Episode IX will be shot on traditional film stock, rather than digitally. “There’s something in my brain that says, ‘well they didn’t have video cameras then,'” said Trevorrow during a press conference at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, according to Variety. “It’s a period film. It happened a long time ago.”

Taking it a step further, Project Casting reports that Episode IX will be filmed in 65mm format, rather than the 35mm format used for The Force Awakens and Rogue One.

It’s unclear at this time if the director who replaces Trevorrow will return to traditional film stock or stick with a digital format.


7. Trevorrow had the team from The Last Jedi shoot a scene for Episode IX

Ships fly at each other firing their lasers in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi | Lucasfilm

Whenever an iconic franchise has multiple directors handing off the torch between movies, there’s always a concerted effort to have the aesthetic feel seamless. To that end, Episode IX director Trevorrow reportedly had the crew from The Last Jedi shoot a scene for his film.

“There was one little thing,” he told MTV’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, noting how “it wasn’t an adjustment, it was just ‘could you shoot this one extra thing while you’re in this place on this day?’, and he [Rian Johnson] did, which was great.”

It’s not at all unprecedented either, given that The Last Jedi director Johnson made a similar request of J.J. Abrams for The Force Awakens. All told, it’ll be interesting trying to figure out which Episode IX scene Johnson had a hand in, especially as we get a feel for his directorial style in The Last Jedi.

8. Trevorrow’s latest film had fans apprehensive of his Episode IX vision

Two children stand facing a camera, with one holding a plunger over his shoulder and wearing goggles

The Book of Henry | Focus Features

If Jurassic World had you worried about Trevorrow’s directorial chops, just wait until you get a load of his most recent release, The Book of Henry. Currently, it’s sitting at a not-so-impressive 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff describing “the movie’s strange, twitching form crawling out of your local multiplex to haunt you down.” The rest of VanDerWerff’s review doesn’t make it sound any more promising, going on to describe how the film was so bad, that “it changed me, on some cellular level.”

Of course, worries about The Book of Henry are irrelevant now that Trevorrow has parted ways with Lucasfilm.

9. Everything we don’t know

Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens looking shocked in a tan shirt and jacket

Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens | Lucasfilm

The list of what we haven’t been told yet far exceeds what we actually know, but there are a few unconfirmed rumors worth talking about.

First off, we’re still not sure whether John Williams will be the composer for all three of the new films. He scored The Force Awakens but stepped aside for Michael Giacchino in Rogue One. There’s been no word regarding his presence in the next two installments. That being so, it wouldn’t seem right if anyone but Williams got the job.

In addition to the film’s composer, we’re also in the dark concerning the overall story. Additionally, we’re uncertain as to what cast members will be playing the biggest roles (outside of Ridley). Hamill, Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver are all on board for The Last Jedi, but it remains to be seen if any of them will hang around for longer than that.

Stay tuned for more rumors as they come in; we’ll be updating this article when any news surfaces. With that, consider this your one-stop shop for everything Episode IX!

Star Wars: Episode IX will hit theaters on May 24, 2019.

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