Disney’s Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams just announced the full title of the finale film in the Skywalker screen saga: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker . The Abrams-directed film will be released Dec. 20.
The trailer opens on Rey, breathing heavy on the desert planet of Jaku. A craft with a black-gloved pilot streaks toward her across the arid landscape. She pivots, kneels and then flips up and over the vessel, glowing lightsaber in hand.
Luke Skywalker’s voiceover, talking to Ridley’s Rey, intones: “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now…but this is your fight.” We see Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca rolling the Millennium Falcon and jumping to hyperspace. Images of Rey tearfully embracing the late Carrie Fisher’s Leia, then Poe, Rey, and Finn approaching a new planet. “But no one’s ever gone,” says Luke’s voice. Then there’s a sneering cackle at the end of the trailer, sounding much like Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor. But didn’t Darth Vader send his former master plummeting to his death in 1983’s Return of the Jedi?
The announcement was made in front of a delirious fan audience at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The venue is the largest convention center in North America but still barely big enough to accommodate this weekend”s Star Wars Celebration, the Lucasfilm expo devoted to the Jedi universe and all of its many iterations (which will soon include the brand’s first live-action television series).
The producers of Star Wars IX are Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan. Abrams co-wrote the script with Chris Terrio. The cast of the new movie is led by Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, and Keri Russell. Three actors from the original 1977 film will also be seen in the finale film: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, and, in a posthumous appearance, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Billy Dee Williams returns to the franchise as well, reprising the Lando Calrissian role he last played in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in 1983.
A day earlier, at Disney’s Investor Day, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy reflected on the enduring appeal of the space opera and its tales of wizards, knights, pirates, and princesses. “It’s remarkable to think that Episode IX will represent the culmination of what George Lucas began 40 years ago with the Skywalker saga,” Kennedy said. Characters from the films “populate a mythology that has impacted audiences throughout multiple generations.”