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.
Episode 8: The Last Jedi is out now, but there are still plenty of mysteries surrounding the 2019 follow-up to Rian Johnson's revolutionary movie.
Star Wars Episode 9 release date
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. In the UK the movie is set to open the day before - Thursday December 19 2019.
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.
Star Wars Episode 9 cast
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. Ridley, Boyega, Isaac and Tran are sure to be back, although it's not looking too good for Dern and Serkis. As for del Toro, who can say right now?
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.
Having originally been touted as a potential new cast member for Star Wars Episode 9, The Americans star Keri Russell has now been added to the cast.
Russell previously worked with Abrams on Mission: Impossible III in 2006, so the director knows all her ability to do high intensity action sequences.
This trilogy closer is also tipped to bring back an all-time classic character, having already returned him to the screen in a younger version in the prequel movie Solo.
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.
Paul Inglis – whose credits include Skyfall, Game of Thrones, Prometheus, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Children of Men, Blade Runner 2049 – has signed on as art director for Episode 9.
Star Wars Episode 9 plot
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.
For those who want the full spoilers on how the new movie sets up Episode 9, click here.
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."
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?
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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