The Ending Wasn't Set When They Started Episode 8
Perhaps the biggest thing we learned about Star Wars as a whole is the approach Lucasfilm are taking to the story. As Kamp said in the AMA, Abrams and Kasdan hadn't outlined a full story for the trilogy and instead the succeeding directors were allowed to "write their films and make up plot and characters from scratch". It's been known for a while that things were open to change with the wider arc, but the true level of free-wheeling wasn't made clear.
In regards to The Last Jedi, the major developments is that it really is the second act of a story, with Johnson leaving plenty dangling for Trevorrow to clean up. Kamp said "he's made a mess that Colin [Trevorrow] will somehow clean up" and that Kathleen Kennedy views the film as the "conflict" of each trilogy's "Setup; Conflict; Resolution" makeup.
However, the ending will be known now - the article revealed that production on Episode IX will begin in January 2018. This is a similar schedule to The Last Jedi, with shooting starting after the release of the previous episode, although of course this time is operating on a shorter time scale; the next film comes out in May, not December.
Episode 9 Was Going To Be Leia's Story
This untimely death of Carrie Fisher in late 2016 looms large over The Last Jedi and how the film will handle Leia has been a major topic of discussion. Although the specifics aren't known, Lucasfilm have confirmed that Fisher's completed role in Episode VIII will be unchanged and that the character won't appear in Episode IX - be that through unused footage, recasting, body doubles or CGI.
What the exact original plan was for Leia is unclear, but according to Kennedy Episode IX was set to focus heavily on Leia - The Force Awakens was Han's story, The Last Jedi's Luke's, so it was only fitting to close the trilogy on the final member of the trio. The interviews took place during the reworking of Episode IX following her passing, so there's no more specifics in the piece, but Kamp did suggest in the AMA that "her absence/death will be alluded to in some elegant way".
The Next Standalone Is Probably Coming in 2020
As Rogue One's $1 billion gross proved, Star Wars isn't just about the Episodes anymore. Spinoffs are a big part of the franchise future and while we didn't learn much more about these from the Vanity Fair stories, Kennedy did drop two key-if-vague details about this. First, she said that despite no official announcement or release date yet, the odds are pretty strong the next Anthology movie after Han Solo will come in 2020. A decision is going to be made in June, meaning we'll likely get proper word at D23 in July.
The other detail is on a wider franchise scale - even if we don't get Obi-Wan/Boba Fett in 2020, the Story films are "Absolutely. Absolutely." a key part of Star Wars' future.
The Post-Episode IX Future
In terms of the main Skywalker Saga Episodes, Kennedy was more uncertain, presumably because a decision of whether to expand into Episode X, XI and XII is yet to be decided (or, indeed, if future Episodes will even be done in trilogies). However, Lucasfilm are grappling with that exact question: "Does the saga extend beyond the nine movies that George envisioned?" Lucas famously had written nine scripts back in the late-1970s and early-1980s, so even though his treatments have been thrown out the sequel trilogy is firmly within his vision, but any further goes beyond.
If it happens, it sounds like it will be down to the success of the new characters, with Kennedy ending the discussion saying the realy aim is to figure out "what exactly is the story we feel is important to tell beyond Episode IX".
And, finally, a few choice snippets revealed across the coverage:
- Although the director initially considered bringing in cousin and three-time collaborator Nathan Johnson to score short interludes, he confirmed John Williams has written every note of the movie's soundtrack.
- The set video shows Johnson on a water tank set that we haven't seen before - possibly an Ahch-To cave.
- Despite a lot of creatures appearing throughout the movie, there are no major non-human characters a la Yoda or Maz Kanata.
- As the end of The Force Awakens teased, C-3PO's red arm has been replaced to make him fully gold again.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019