In just over one month (from the time of this writing), fans around the world will bear witness as the force awakens and Star Wars 7 hits theaters. It’s been a long road for fans of the franchise – after George Lucas’ prequel trilogy failed to live-up to expectations. In the time since, Star Wars video games have come and gone without fanfare and Lucasfilm batted around the idea of a live-action TV series set in the Galaxy Far, Far Away; however, it wasn’t until Disney purchased the Star Wars brand that momentum started building for a revival of the force.
Now, three years after the announcement of Disney’s acquisition, through all the casting announcements, teaser trailers, leaked merchandise, and (lately) official interviews, fans do not have to wait much longer for Star Wars‘ return to theaters. Each day brings new speculation, and much is still locked in J.J. Abrams’ now-standard vault of secrets; yet, in the run-up to release moviegoers are also getting concrete answers: today, we’ve learned just how long viewers will be sitting in the theater when The Force Awakens.
Over the last few days, Entertainment Weekly has been pushing out new behind-the-scenes details from their time interviewing the cast and crew of Star Wars 7. In the process, we’ve learned more about Starkiller Base and General Hux (played by Domhnall Gleeson) as well as received confirmation that our Luke Skywalker backstory questions will be addressed when The Force Awakens finally hits theaters. But, outside of the fictional narrative, the upcoming issue also reveals that Abrams has finished editing Episode 7 – and settled on a runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Here’s the official word from EW:
“The final edit of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is complete and has a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. Picture was locked on November 3rd 2015 at midnight, but JJ Abrams and crew will be spending the next few weeks finalizing the film’s visual effects, sound effects and a final scoring session with composer John Williams.”
Readers who are less familiar with post-production processes might be surprised to hear that Abrams is still working on the movie – specifically that the director and collaborators are still fine-tuning the film with only one month before release. As indicated in the quote, the filmmaker won’t be making sweeping changes at this point, allowing for Lucasfilm to announce a finalized runtime, and is merely tinkering with special effects, sound, and score.
At 135 minutes, The Force Awakens is right in step with most Star Wars film entries; though, where exactly it lands on the spectrum of shortest to longest Star Wars series films depends on which original trilogy version is used – given that the Return of the Jedi “Special Edition” also runs 135 minutes.
In case you’re wondering, here’s the full breakdown:
- Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace – 136 min
- Star Wars 2: Attack of the Clones – 142 min (IMAX Edition – 120 min)
- Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith – 140 min
- Star Wars 4: A New Hope – 121 min (Special Edition – 125 min)
- Star Wars 5: The Empire Strikes Back – 124 min (Special Edition – 127 min)
- Star Wars 6: Return of the Jedi – 134 min (Special Edition – 135 min)
- Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens – 135 min
While A New Hope is the shortest Star Wars movie, it’s worth noting that IMAX presentations of Attack of the Clones cut 22 full minutes from the regular film (due to size limitations of IMAX film platters) – technically making Episode 2 the shortest entry screened (depending on where it was viewed) at 120 minutes. Ultimately, The Force Awakens is longer than all original trilogy entries, even the Special Editions, but shorter than all of the prequel trilogy entries (IMAX edition not included).
At 2 hours and 15 minutes, fans should get a lot of Star Wars for their money but The Force Awakens will also have a significant amount of exposition to get through – in order to payoff prior narrative arcs, tell the Episode 7 story at hand, while also setting the stage for Star Wars 8 (and future installments in the shared universe). That all said, Abrams’ Star Trek “reboot” came in at 127 minutes – facing similar challenges (building on previous films and laying a foundation for sequels). So, a 135 minute runtime for Star Wars 7 isn’t a significant departure from a framework that the director previously found success in.
That all said, fingers crossed that Abrams has set aside a decent chunk of that 2 hour and 15 minute runtime to shed some light on where Luke Skywalker has been the last thirty years.
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: EW (via /Film)