Yesterday it was announced that the next, as yet unnamed Star Wars movie, Episode VIII, will be pushed back from Summer 2017 to Christmas 2017. This set off a rescheduling frenzy among studios with Spider-Man, Terminator, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jumanji all getting moved around. I wasn’t a bit surprised at the move: 18 months seemed like a VERY short time to put together a Star Wars movie, and filming hasn’t even begun. The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit added some speculation to the rumors, however, as reported at Comicbook.com:

Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter heard from his sources that Episode VIII is being delayed so the script can be adjusted to capitalize on the unexpected popularity of the new characters. “Obviously the December date worked out very (very) well for them but I’ve also heard they are rewriting the script,” he tweeted. “I’ve heard from several sources the rewrites are positive, based on audience reaction to the new characters. People loved them. So strongly. And Lucasfilm was surprised at how well they were received, according to several sources.”

Kit is a veteran reporter, so I trust his sources, but my immediate reaction is “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Did Disney/JJ Abrams/Lucasfilm really think that these enormously charismatic young actors in these showcase rolls were going to be also rans? Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie have been watched, parodied, quoted, projected, and watched quoted and projected some more for 30 years, every day, all day, and they are timeless, but there is always room for fresh blood as well especially presented as lovable characters from jump.

I mean maybe Episode VIII is going to be all about Luke Skywalker’s return, but why even bring in Kylo, Finn, Poe and Rey if they weren’t going to get their own hero mode storyline? Perhaps it is a bit surprising that the four new characters have been embraced so wildly by, well, everyone who saw the movie, but that was part of the design of the film.

This also reminded me of a nagging question I’ve had ever since I walked out of seeing The Force Awakens for the first time. JUST WHO IS RUNNING THIS FRANCHISE. I’m sure the answer can be found somewhere in the approximately 1000 news stories about TFA, but it hasn’t been that obvious in my reading. While George Lucas may have planned “A New Hope” as a one off, he always had a longer story in mind, and Return of the Jedi is the next part of Empire Strikes Back; it’s one big storyline, allowing for a few continuity breaks. The prequel trilogy is one big story, with character arcs that run all through it, and as flawed as it is, this is probably its greatest strength. We see Palpatine, Anakin, Padme and Obi Wan develop and age over the whole saga.

It’s not clear to me if the new trilogy is a trilogy or just three new movies. I assume someone–JJ Abrams? Kathleen Kennedy?– has a storyline for the whole trilogy worked out somewhere, maybe set in that new empty safe where JK Rowling kept the ending of the Harry Potter franchise for years. But Abrams has been talking about how happy he is to “hand it off to Rian Johnson” who is writing and directing Episode VIII, with Colin Trevorrow taking over for Episode IX. The last two movies will be produced by Kennedy and Abrams, but Johnson is writing the treatment for both Episode VIII and IX.

I can understand Abrams taking a scarper after making a Star Wars movie…after a big success like TFA it’s good to quit while you’re ahead. However, did he really just write the first third of a story and then let someone else finish it, exquisite corpse style? These “rewrite” rumors make it sound like the plot for the whole trilogy wasn’t entirely set in stone when TFA was made, which would just be….stupid.

I’m sure I’m just overreacting here, but I hope Episodes VII-IX are one big story, as the All Father Lucas intended. As Trevorrow himself said, “it’s the greatest story of all” and the new characters deserve their own epic tale, with all the unities included. 

I walked out of The Force Awakens with feels I hadn’t felt since…well, since I saw The Empire Strikes Back. It was rare and special though, and just as Return of the Jedi was something of a disappointment after the greatness of Empire, the enthusiasm for the next movie with Rey, Finn and the rest is going to be hard to live up to. Better to steel myself for disappointment now. That’s the Jedi way.


  1. I’ve heard that Abrams was heavily involved in the story arc for all three, yeah. This does get weirder and weirder the more news comes out, though. OR maybe not weird, because it’s the same story we’ve been hearing from Disney-owner franchises now for a while.

    I suspect it’s less a question of the new characters as a whole and more a question of WHICH hew characters– everything we’ve heard out of marketing is this whole travesty about them thinking Rey toys wouldn’t sell well, and expecting Kylo Ren to be the breakout hit. So they are most likely retooling what was going to be a whiny white boy villaiin redemption story into something more about the characters people actually liked. There’s also some speculation that people were SO fond of the idea of Poe as gay or bisexual that they may be rewriting his character slightly to make what Oscar Isaacs already admitted to doing under the radar more explicitly part of his character. I’m still not sure I believe Disney would do that, but here’s to hoping?

    Anyway, even if it’s about assuming Darth Whiny was going to be the breakout character, I agree with you that it really says so much about what Disney still assumes about their market/demographic. And it’s kind of pathetic because I don’t remember ever having trouble finding Leia toys in the 80s. This divisiveness in gendered marketing and ideas about what audiences are supposed to like is killing good storytelling.

  2. “These “rewrite” rumors make it sound like the plot for the whole trilogy wasn’t entirely set in stone when TFA was made, which would just be….stupid.”

    It may be stupid, but that’s par for the course. While “Revenge” of the Jedi was being planned during the filming of ESB, there was no script. There wasn’t even a second Death Star yet. Even for the prequels Lucas didn’t plan out the story past the film he was working on at a time. Sure, there were basic ideas, plus some narrative elements that were a given (spoiler: Anakin becomes Darth Vader!), but there was definitely no script for each film until after the previous film was finished.

    In March of 2000, just three months before the start of principal photography, Lucas finally completed his ROUGH DRAFT for Episode 2. That was almost a year after Episode 1 came out. Episode 3 did have more advance planning, but the summer after Episode 2 came out he still hadn’t settled on the final plot. He did film one scene, the scene on Tatooine at the very end of Episode 3, during filming of Episode 2, but that’s really the only story element that was figured out beforehand. Everything else that was planned in advance was art department stuff: ships, costumes, battles, locations.

    Lucasfilm clearly has a grand outline for these next films. And they clearly have at least a draft or two of Episode 8. But them not having a final SHOOTING script until after the last film is released is not out of the ordinary.

  3. Yeah, I think you might be misunderstanding how the scripting process works. Obviously, they knew the new characters were going to be popular. I doubt this is about Rey and Finn. It’s more about how large a role to give, say, Phasma. She was a huge fan favorite who didn’t really get a lot of time in the first film. So maybe they’ve decided to give her an actual character arc, rather than just have her play a generic baddie. Or maybe they’re struggling with where to go with Poe as a potential romantic lead. Remember, Poe wasn’t even originally supposed to survive the first film. The idea that the whole Finn/Poe romance would become a huge fan favorite was probably not on anyone’s radar. Now, they have to decide whether to play that up, or to go some other direction. But they’re definitely going to want to capitalize on Oscar Isaac’s status as “the Internet’s boyfriend” and build up his part in the next two movies. I doubt that the basic shape of Rey-Finn-Kylo will change much. It’s the other breakout characters that they have to look out how best to use.

  4. “…and filming hasn’t even begun.”

    This actually isn’t accurate.SHooting had actually started on this back in September. Principle actors were supposed to report to start shooting this month, which obviously has been pushed back now.

    I agree with Niska and think the retooling has less to do with the leads and more to do with other characters. I also think DIsney/Lucasfilm was likely very conservative with what they initially gave RIan Johnson to work with as far as budget and production, and are likely telling him now to go for broke. I also think the huge opening of episode VII and only having an AVatar sequel to contend with as opposed to tentpole movies every week off three months has a lot more to do with them moving the date than the script re-writes.

  5. I’ve been anxious since JJ was announced for the project. Endings are not his strong suit (Lost, Super 8). I’ve simply not found myself feeling like any real resolution has been effected by the end of his stories, and see plenty of missed chances (esp. with the Star Trek films). He builds MASSIVELY HUGE, lush stories though, so if someone else is taking his placement and taking a Happy Gilmore style swing at it, I could definitely be ok with that.

  6. There was recently some interviews with Gary Kurtz, who worked on A New Hope & Empire before parting ways for Return of the Jedi. He mentioned that the first draft of Return of the Jedi didn’t even have the second Death Star. That they were looking to kill off Han Solo in the middle of the movie and that it would be a lot darker. However, after how dark Empire got, Lucas wanted Jedi to be less serious and “more rollercoaster ride”. Gary Kurtz didn’t like the direction they were going and so he left.

    I imagine with such an important franchise that there has been a lot of talk about where these 3 movies are going storywise. I doubt they would have been limited to just the single movie. Gwendoline Christie has talked about her character Captain Phasma being in all 3 movies and having a story arc. That said, the plan can and obviously will change just as it did with the original trilogy.


    From what I’ve read, Kathleen Kennedy is in charge. She’s overseeing the episodes, much like the showrunner on a TV series, as directors come and go.

  8. Whatever changes are being made to the script are necessary not just because the plot itself but how the new characters were welcome so I’m not that anxious because at the end of the day is Disney’s franchise, it cost a lot to get it and I don’t think they’re to eager to lose it. What I’m really expecting is a major development in Kylo Ren’s character and not a last minute redemption as Darth Vader.

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