The film was announced after Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012, with Colin Trevorrow announced as the film's director in August 2015. In September 2017, Trevorrow left the project due to creative differences; he was replaced by Abrams, who previously directed The Force Awakens. Filming began in August 2018 at Pinewood Studios in London. Episode IX is set to be released on December 20, 2019 in the United States.
Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, daughter of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala, twin sister of Luke Skywalker, and leading general of the Resistance. Fisher, who died in late 2016, will appear through the use of unreleased footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
In December 2016, following Carrie Fisher's death, Variety and Reuters reported that Fisher was slated for a key role in Episode IX. Lucasfilm, Disney and others involved with the film have not revealed how they plan to address Fisher's death and what will become of her character in the film. In January 2017, Lucasfilm stated that there were no plans to digitally generate Fisher's performance for the film. The following April, Fisher's brother Todd revealed that he and Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd granted Disney and Lucasfilm the rights to use recent footage of the late actress in the film, with the thought again not to have her appear via CGI. Despite this, Kennedy stated that Fisher would not appear in the film. At the end of the month, Disney announced the film would be released on May 24, 2019. A month later, filming was expected to begin in January 2018.
In August 2017, it was announced that Jack Thorne would rewrite the script. On September 5, 2017, Lucasfilm released a statement stating that Trevorrow had parted ways with the production, due to creative differences, with it reported that Trevorrow and Kennedy's relationship had become "unmanageable" after Trevorrow had been given multiple opportunities to work on multiple drafts of the script. Johnson was seen as the top choice to replace him as director, but he stated "it was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX". A week later, it was announced that J. J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would return to direct Episode IX. Abrams will also co-write the film with Chris Terrio, in addition to producing the film through his company Bad Robot Productions, with Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan. Disney also moved the film's release date to December 20, 2019. In July 2018, Keri Russell was in talks to play a part for some "action-heavy fight scenes" in the film, along with the confirmation that Billy Dee Williams will return as Lando Calrissian. At the end of the month, Russell was confirmed to have been cast, along with the announcement of returning and additional new cast members. Carrie Fisher will appear in the film using unreleased footage she filmed for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. In late August, Dominic Monaghan and Matt Smith were cast in unspecified roles. Additionally, Jimmy Vee and Greg Grunberg reprise their roles as R2-D2 and Snap Wexley, respectively, from previous films. Brian Herring returns to puppeteer BB-8.
On January 10, 2018, it was reported that John Williams, who composed the eight previous saga films, will return to compose and conduct the music for Episode IX. The next month, Williams announced that Episode IX will be the last Star Wars film he will be composing.
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