While the positive reception to The Mandalorian and the hype building around Ewan McGregor’s return as Obi-Wan Kenobi make it seem as though Star Wars is in rude health on the small screen, it looks increasingly likely that the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could be a make-or-break project for the long-running sci-fi series from a cinematic perspective.
J.J. Abrams has promised a definitive end to the story that began in A New Hope back in 1977, bringing the entire Skywalker Saga to a close. After that though, the future for Star Wars seems completely up in the air. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss recently abandoned their planned trilogy, while Rian Johnson’s set of movies may or may not still be happening. Even Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has admitted that she doesn’t know what comes next.
Given the recent reactions to the likes of The Last Jedi and Solo, as well as rumors that the studio are severely limiting the creative control given to the filmmakers on Star Wars projects, the critical and commercial success of The Rise of Skywalker could be a pivotal moment for the franchise as a whole, a matter that isn’t helped by the recent speculation that George Lucas had to step in and save the movie in the wake of some disastrous test screenings.
However, Abrams has claimed in a recent interview that The Rise of Skywalker’s reshoots weren’t as extensive as initially claimed, and that the ninth installment underwent less changes than The Force Awakens, despite the director also admitting that the latest chapter is an altogether larger and more ambitious undertaking.
“We had more reshoots on Episode VII than this one. We had more story adjustments on VII than this one. We didn’t know if these characters would work, if the actors would be able to carry a Star Wars movie. There were a lot of things we didn’t know. On this, we knew who and what worked, and everyone is doing the best work I’ve ever seen anyone do. But the ambition of this movie is far greater than Force Awakens. What we set out to do was far more challenging. Everything is exponentially larger on this.”
It can’t have been an easy task, with Abrams having to deal with the polarizing reactions to The Last Jedi that divided the fans, as well as reworking a script that initially came from the movie’s original director Colin Trevorrow alongside his Jurassic World co-writer Derek Connolly.
In any case, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to hit theaters in just a few weeks, and how the finished product turns out will have a huge bearing on the direction of the entire Star Wars brand going forward, so hopefully Abrams manages to knock it out of the park.