The Skywalker saga is officially coming to an end. Lucasfilm has just announced that production on Star Wars 9 is getting underway next week with J.J. Abrams returning to direct after helming 2015's The Force Awakens, which successfully reintroduced the franchise to the world. In the official announcement from Lucasfilm, they carefully noted that Abrams will be directing "the final installment of the Skywalker saga." Indeed, it would appear that any future movies within the franchise, while they may have connections to the Skywalkers, won't be part of the epic nine-movie saga.
In many ways, this isn't that surprising but it no doubt adds some extra weight, and perhaps some unneeded pressure, to Episode IX. This thing already has to shoulder the weight of a very divided fanbase as a result of what Rian Johnson did in The Last Jedi. While critics largely embraced his vision, fans were all over the place, in terms of how they felt about it, with a very vocal sector of fans voicing their strong distaste for the middle entry in this new trilogy. Now, it's up to J.J. Abrams to once again wash a bad taste out of everyone's mouths. No easy task.
Knowing that this is going to be the final chapter in that saga George Lucas started more than 40 years ago makes it even more significant. Given that Luke Skywalker died at the end of The Last Jedi, it seemed very much like the Skywalker saga was coming to a conclusion in Star Wars 9 anyway, but this confirms it. There's still the matter of Ben Solo, aka Kylo Ren, to deal with. However, if we assume that he's not going to make it out of the upcoming movie alive, then that would pretty much do it.
The casting announcement confirmed that Mark Hamill will indeed be back in Star Wars 9. While no specific details were included, it's highly likely he'll be back as a Force ghost. Carrie Fisher will also appear once more as Leia Organa. Lucasfilm and J.J. Abrams are going to make use of unused footage from The Force Awakens to accomplish this. However, given Fisher's tragic passing, she won't be able to appear in any other movies down the line. Point being, no matter how you slice it, this movie has set itself up to be a very logical place to conclude the Skywalker saga.
Cameras will begin rolling on August 1 at Pinewood Studios in London. J.J. Abrams, in addition to directing, co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio. Plot details have yet to be announced, but don't expect that to change anytime soon as Lucasfilm is going to keep this thing as secretive as possible until the time is right. We'll be sure to keep you up to date as any new information makes its way online, which it surely will once filming gets underway. Star Wars 9 is currently set for release on December 20, 2019. This news comes to us courtesy of StarWars.com.