Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars production line is a well-oiled machine, with the studio looking more than capable of fulfilling its ambition of releasing a new instalment in the franchise annually. So, it’s with no great surprise that production of Colin Trevorrow’s Star Wars: Episode IX is firmly underway behind (very) closed doors at Disney, with filming reported to be commencing as soon as January 2018 with a targeted release date of May 24th, 2019.
If Trevorrow has been given as much freedom as Rian Johnson was to develop the characters and franchise, then the fates of Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo and the galaxy at large rest largely in his hands. Naturally, we know very little as to what’s going to happen in Episode IX right now, with the script probably not even out of the drafting stage yet. Sadly, we do know what’s not going to feature in Episode IX: Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia.
The actress’ untimely passing late last year has put the kibosh on preliminary plans to make her a major focus of the plot, with producer Kathleen Kennedy explaining to Vanity Fair that Episode IX was going to be Carrie’s movie, with her playing a role similar in scope to Han Solo’s in The Force Awakens. It remains to be seen whether they’ll conclude Leia’s story in The Last Jedi or find some limited way for the character to be off-screen for the sequel, but I suspect the former is more likely.
We should have more of an idea what’s to come when we finally get our eyes on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which is scheduled for release on December 15th.