It’s fair to say that Star Wars Episode IX is one of the most eagerly-anticipated movies in history, with the upcoming film set to cap off the Skywalker saga after decades of onscreen storytelling.
However, despite that we still know very little about to expect from The Last Jedi’s sequel, which is being kept under wraps for the time being.
For now, here are the key details you DO need to know about what to expect from Star Wars Episode IX.
When does Star Wars Episode IX come out in cinemas?
The next instalment of the Star Wars saga will be released in UK cinemas on 19th December 2019, returning to the modern films’ traditional Christmas release following spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story’s May outing this year.
Originally, Episode IX was set to be released in summer 2019, but it was delayed due to behind-the-scenes issues (see below), and the new release date means fans will have to wait longer than ever – a full 19 months – before they get their next fix of Jedi action.
Who’s directing the next Star Wars film?
Star Wars Episode IX will be brought to the screen by JJ Abrams, who helmed The Force Awakens in 2015 and successfully brought the franchise back to cinemas.
“With The Force Awakens, JJ delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.
Originally the film was set to be directed by Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow, but the writer/director left the project last year leading Abrams to step in and the film’s release date be pushed back a few months.
It’s unclear why Trevorrow left – a statement from LucasFilm claimed that all parties had “mutually chosen to part ways” – though he has recently commented on the experience, revealing that he’d pitched his story to both George Lucas and Mark Hamill.
“I don’t want to talk too much about it because I don’t want to affect the way that fans get to see these films,” Trevorrow told Empire.
“When we were kids, these movies came to us from far away. They were a gift. And the more we talk about how they’re made, the more it reveals that they’re just movies. But they’re not just movies, they’re more than that.
“Beyond that, I got the opportunity to tell a story that is a celebration of everything I believe in, I got to tell it to George Lucas and I got to tell it to Luke Skywalker, and those are experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Who wrote Star Wars Episode IX?
Trevorrow and frequent collaborator Derek Connolly wrote the first draft of the script, before Harry Potter and the Cursed Child scribe Jack Thorne was hired to rewrite it.
Since Abrams took over, he has reportedly thrown out the first script and written a new one with Academy award-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio, best known for his work on Argo, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.
Who stars in Episode IX?
Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran and Domnhall Gleeson are all expected to return for the final film, with the likes of Joonas Suotomo (Chewbacca) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) in tow.
Following her untimely death in December 2016 Carrie Fisher will sadly not be a part of the new film, after it was initially planned to focus on her character General Leia. Still, it seems likely the film will pay tribute to her passing in some way during the runtime.
It’s currently unclear whether Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker will continue to have a role in the series, following his character’s merging with the Force in Episode VIII – however, the actor himself has suggested he’s interested in returning.
“We haven’t really discussed it, so it’s all in JJ’s hands,” Hamill told RadioTimes.com when asked if he’d be back.
“But you know, there’s a certain sense of closure for me. JJ gave me one of the most spectacular entrances, certainly of my career, maybe in all of film history. I don’t know if anybody’s been talked about for two hours and then shows up for 30 seconds before the end credits roll.
“And what a spectacular exit Rian [Johnson, director of The Last Jedi] gave me!” he said, while also admitting that part of him hoped that his ‘exit’ could have taken place in Episode IX instead.
“‘Now,’ I said, ‘can’t we push this [Luke’s death] off to Nine so I can have a beginning, a middle and an end?’ Now I have a beginning and an end.
“But all things considered – especially when I thought that we would never come back at all – you know, I have nothing to complain about. So whether I’m in it or not in it at all, I’m fine with Nine.”
What will happen in Star Wars Episode IX?
The plot of the film is currently a mystery, though fans can expect the conclusion of the Resistance’s battle against the First Order as well as Rey’s complex relationship with tortured villain Kylo Ren.
In the meantime, a few of the actors have some ideas as to what we might expect.
“What was brilliant [about The Last Jedi] was that it was unexpected,” Domnhall Gleeson, who plays First Order senior Officer General Hux told RadioTimes.com. “And I’ve got a feeling that what JJ does may also be unexpected.
“I wasn’t expecting [Hux’s comedy] to be the way it went in VIII, at all. It really surprised me. And I’d say rather than played for laughs, it was written for laughs. We did it with an eye on the comic elements of it.”
Gleeson went on to clarify that he doesn’t know for sure what “unexpected” things we could, er, expect – at the time, he had yet to see a script for the new film, which starts filming in the summer – but he was eager to see what Abrams had lined up for him in particular.
“I’ve got no idea because I haven’t read a script,” he said. “I have no idea what direction he’ll take it in, or even if he’ll use me. So I’m hoping that if I’m in the next one, I’ll get to do [some more comedy].”
“Because JJ’s writing it, I know that if I’m in it I’ll get to do something exciting,” Gleeson concluded. “So that would be nice.”
“Is there a sequel? Oh my Goddddd!” Daisy Ridley joked when we asked her the same question. “I’ve heard nothing about it. I hopefully will soon.”
“It’s interesting, because after the first one came out we literally went straight into the next one, so there was no time to think about it. And now I’m like huh, I wonder what I’m going to be doing for six months…?”
What is the next Star Wars film’s title?
As of yet, we don’t know – hopefully we’ll find out in the coming weeks and months.
When are we getting a trailer for Episode IX?
Again, this is a bit of a mystery – though judging by previous films’ metrics, we can get some clues. The first teaser for The Last Jedi was released the April before release, meaning we could have a long 10-month wait on our hands before we see any footage.
However, the longer lead-in to Episode IX could mean things work a little differently, as the new film won’t have to worry about competing with another Star Wars film’s release before starting its own promotional drive (The Last Jedi had to wait for Rogue One to die down, basically).
With that in mind, we could look to The Force Awakens’ first trailer, which was released 13 months before that film’s release, as a guide point for what to expect. That trailer was released in late November, which would mean a mere 6-month wait before we see some teaser action.
When does Episode IX start filming?
Now, here’s something we do know thanks to Abrams himself, who revealed the shooting schedule on an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
“We have a script, which is a big deal for me– it starts shooting end of July,” Abrams said.
Fingers crossed that when filming finally kicks off, we’ll be able to find out more about what’s next from a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars Episode IX will be released in UK cinemas on the 19th December 2019