J.J. Abrams confirms Star Wars: Episode IX has a script in place and the project begins filming at the end of July. This is a big development for the sequel trilogy finale, which saw a massive upheaval last year after original director Colin Trevorrow left due to creative differences. Abrams, returning to finish what he started with The Force Awakens, teamed up with Chris Terrio for what was the fourth pass at an Episode IX screenplay. Fortunately, things have been going very smoothly since Abrams and Terrio took over, and now Lucasfilm can focus on moving to the production phase.
After Abrams came onboard, Episode IX was delayed to December 2019, a move that also pushed back the filming schedule. A summer start date has long been reported, with June the presumed window. As it turns out, Abrams will begin rolling the cameras a little later than that. Star Wars 9 starts shooting in July.
During his appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (watch the video above), Abrams revealed what he could about Episode IX, remarking how exciting it is for him to have a script in advance of principal photography. He had nothing but kind words to say about Terrio, calling his co-writer a "genius." Though Terrio's credits include the divisive Batman V Superman and Justice League, he did receive an Oscar for his work on Ben Affleck's Argo, illustrating he has a lot of talent. Many are hopeful Terrio and Abrams' sensibilities will complement each other nicely.
Episode IX has had a long road to this stage due to a variety of factors. For starters, it's believed this will be the last installment of the Skywalker saga before Lucasfilm turns their attention to Rian Johnson's trilogy and the series developed by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and nailing the end of a beloved series is always tough. Additionally, the death of Carrie Fisher caused the studio to start from scratch, since General Leia Organa was meant to be at the forefront of the movie. Finding a respectful way to deal with that situation is highly important, and many are interested to see how Abrams handles the Leia character in Episode IX. Lucasfilm would be wise to address this aspect up front and reveal what they're doing well before the movie comes out, rather than be coy for the sake of preserving plot details.
With five months to go until filming, the next order of business will be casting any new roles for Star Wars 9. The film will have a lot on its plate with all the returning characters, but each installment in the franchise introduces fresh faces, so it's reasonable to assume Episode IX will as well (perhaps the Knights of Ren). It's only a matter of time before the first wave of rumors start and the countdown to December 2019 commences.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019