J.J. Abrams Reveals When Cameras Will Roll On Star Wars: Episode IX


Given that Disney is one of the biggest, most influential movie studios in history, it’s inevitable that any event staged for its products will draw a great deal of attention. Add to that mix the fact that a large proportion of the brand’s success and influence now stems from it being not only home to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Star Wars, too, and it’s clear to see why the D23 Expo Japan is now making headlines. Chief among them is details of when principal photography on Star Wars: Episode IX will finally commence.

Episode IX was always going to be highly anticipated, purely by virtue of being the next chapter in the core Star Wars saga. But now, that level of expectation is even more heightened. Not only did Rian Johnson set the bar extraordinarily high with Star Wars: The Last Jedi – both in quality and box office receipts – but there’s also been the now familiar directing kerfuffle, adding tension to the mix, as well as the loss of Carrie Fisher.

The film was originally set to be directed and co-written by Colin Trevorrow, who – along with producer Kathleen Kennedy – made it clear that the storyline would centre on General Leia Organa – played by Fisher. This excited fans, who were well aware of the fact that Han Solo had been the focus of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and that Luke Skywalker had been the focus of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Episode IX was Leia’s turn to step into the spotlight, at long last.

But then, sadly, Carrie Fisher unexpectedly and suddenly died. Lucasfilm confirmed that Leia would no longer appear in the movie – despite the studio having already digitally recreated her for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – and this meant that Episode IX required a complete overhaul from top to bottom. Not too long afterward, Colin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm parted ways.

This turn of events came hot on the heels of the ejection of Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the director’s chair of Solo: A Star Wars Story. In the midst of principal photography, the filmmaking duo were replaced with Academy Award winner Ron Howard. Some time later, it was announced that J.J. Abrams – the man who ushered in this new era for the Star Wars franchise by directing The Force Awakens – would take the helm of Episode IX.

Since that announcement, little has been heard of the project – beyond periodic assurances from Abrams that he’s hard at work re-writing the script. Now, however, with the D23 Expo Japan, his assurances have gone a step further. This time, in a recorded message to the assembled audience, Abrams said he’s currently “co-writing Episode IX before directing it this summer.”

Rey and Kylo in Star Wars: The Last Jedi Promo Art

This answers the first burning question fans have had ever since the release of The Last Jedi. Thus far, even in the face of directorial turmoil, the Star Wars release schedule has remained on track. Each project has had its arrival date set years in advance, and each one has successfully hit that target.

So, Star Wars: Episode IX was expected to begin shooting soon, and certainly before the fall of 2018, because it’s set for release in December 2019 and is such a giant movie takes time to craft. Now we know that principal photography will commence this summer – giving Abrams time to polish the script and work with those creating practical effects and creatures for the film. It’s felt a long time coming, but the finish line for fans is finally coming into view.