What We Know About Star Wars Episode IX
This is the big one - the final part of the Skywalker saga that launched Star Wars in 1977 in one film before becoming a generation-spanning trilogy of trilogies. Episode IX arrives in cinemas at the end of 2019 marking the culmination of a 40-year old story.
Star Wars: Episode IX arrives in UK cinemas on 19th December 2019 and US cinemas on 20th December 2019.
With the first trailer and title expected to be unveiled this weekend we thought it was time to quickly round up everything we know alongside the juiciest rumours that could just turn out to be true...
What will Star Wars Episode IX be called?
There have been loads of supposed leaks - is this part of JJ Abrams strategy to flood the internet with possibilities so no one actually knows what is true. So far Balance of the Force was one that was expected to be revealed a few months ago, we've heard Echoes of the Jedi and more recently the very different Skywalker (or maybe Skywalkers depending on the rumour) has been floating around.
The fact is, we don't know but we expect to find out very soon when the film is centre stage at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago this weekend.
Episode IX has had a bit of a fractured development, initially Colin Trevorrow had been signed to direct the film but dropped out before production leading to JJ Abrams eventually returning to finish the story he started in The Force Awakens.
Who is starring in the film?
We know that Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are all back in their now franchise-leading roles of Rey, Finn and Poe. Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) and Domhnall Gleeson (Hux) are returning to head up the First Order and we also know Mark Hamill is returning as Luke Skywalker even though the character died in the previous film - so expect Force Ghost Luke to be a staple here.
Other actors we expect to return are Lupita Nyong'o as Max Kanata, Kelly Marie Tran as the brilliant Rose Tyco, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca (replacing Peter Mayhew), Billie Lourd, Carrie's daughter, as Lieutenant Connix and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.
Billy Dee Williams is to return as Lando, having previously played the character in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; and also voicing the role more recently in the Star Wars: Rebels animated show.
Exciting new cast additions include Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant and Keri Russell but their characters have not been officially confirmed as yet.
Do we know ANYTHING about the story?
We're going to ignore rumour and speculation here. All we really know is that it will follow on from the events of The Last Jedi and is likely to be set a little while after that film concluded with the Resistance attempting to regroup having been almost wiped out on the salt planet, Crait.
Daisy Ridley has previously suggested this could be the last we see of Rey, but that doesn't necessarily mean bad things for the character. "I am really, really excited to do the third thing and round it out, because ultimately, what I was signing on to was three films," Ridley said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "So in my head, it's three films. I think it will feel like the right time to round it out."
She then went on to clarify "I honestly feel like the world may end in the next 30 years, so, if in 30 years, we are not living underground in a series of interconnected cells, then sure. Maybe. But again, it’s like, who knows."
Other than that everyone's guess is as good as any rumour. There are lots of questions still to answer; some fans even want different answers to the ones we've already got. Will the film be as divisive as The Last Jedi proved to be?
How will Carrie Fisher be featured in the film?
Carrie's family were happy for her to appear in the film, despite her passing in 2016. Disney made a commitment to not use CGI to bring the character back so JJ Abrams has repurposed material that was cut from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi in order to give her a sizeable role and a respectful send off.
Episode IX was originally intended to put the spotlight on Leia having already given both Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) the limelight in the two previous films.
While CGI won't be used to recreate the character we expect it to be used copiously to allow existing footage to integrate with new scenes and footage that will make up Episode IX
What do we know about the filming?
We know that Episode IX finished filming on 15th February 2019. JJ Abrams took to Twitter on that day to mark the final moments of shooting.
Shooting started on 2nd August 2018 which means the film had a 6-7 month shoot over the Christmas period. It is now in post production with no footage having been shared publicly to date.
When will we see the first trailer?
We expect to see the first trailer at Star Wars Celebration during the Star Wars Episode IX Panel. This is scheduled to start at 11am CDT on 12th April - THIS FRIDAY! That is at 5pm UK (BST) time the same day. So by the end of this week we will either have the first glimpse of the film OR everyone is going to be very disappointed!
We've been here before with expectations of trailers, title reveals or footage - even Christmas Day 2018 was mooted as a likelihood/certainty from some sites who'll published every rumour going. However it'll be almost impossible for LucasFilm to get through a whole panel dedicated to the film without showing at least something!