Star Wars Episode IX: Everything you need to know

Hugh Armitage
Photo credit: Lucasfilm

From Digital Spy

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.

We are lucky enough to finally know what happens in Episode 8: The Last Jedi, but for now we'll skip the spoilers and stick to the cold hard announcements for now.

Star Wars Episode 9 release date

Photo credit: Lucas Film / Disney

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. A UK date is yet to be announced, but is likely to be the same day, if not slightly earlier.

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 is set to begin for the movie in January 2018.

Star Wars Episode 9 cast

Photo credit: LucasFilm / Disney

Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), Laura Dern (Amilyn Holdo), Benicio del Toro ('DJ') and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) are the stars of The Last Jedi, and we'll leave you to guess for now as to who will be returning.

Carrie Fisher's brother Todd Fisher said that the late Star Wars legend would somehow return as General Leia – possibly using Rogue One's unsettling CGI reconstruction technology – but this has been denied by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Which comes as a relief.

Jurassic World director Trevorrow was on board, 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.

Star Wars Episode 9 plot

Photo credit: Disney

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.

One big thing we've known for a while about the movie is the impact that Carrie Fisher's death has had on the plans for the next episode. 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."

Photo credit: Lucasfilm

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.

What's next for Star Wars?

Photo credit: Lucasfilm / Disney

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.

Star Wars Episode 9 trailer: When can I see it?

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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