Kylo initiates a Force bond with Rey to discover her location. He travels to Pasaana with his warrior subordinates, the Knights of Ren. With Lando Calrissian's help, Rey and her friends find the clue—a dagger inscribed with Sith text, which C-3PO's programming forbids him from interpreting—and the remains of a Sith assassin named Ochi and his ship. Rey senses Kylo nearby, and faces him. The First Order capture the Falcon, Chewbacca, and the dagger. Attempting to save Chewbacca, Rey accidentally destroys a First Order transport with Force lightning. Believing Chewbacca is dead, the group escape on Ochi's ship.
They travel to Kijimi, where a droidsmith extracts the Sith text from C-3PO's memory, revealing coordinates to a wayfinder. Rey senses Chewbacca is alive, and the group mount a rescue mission to a First Order Star Destroyer. Rey recovers the dagger and has visions of Ochi killing her parents. Kylo informs her that she is Palpatine's granddaughter. When Palpatine had ordered Ochi to recover the young Rey, her parents hid her on Jakku. General Hux saves Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca from execution, revealing himself as the spy. After allowing the group to escape, Hux is discovered and executed by Allegiant General Pryde. The group fly the Falcon to the wayfinder's coordinates on a moon in the Endor system.
Rey retrieves the wayfinder from the wreckage of the second Death Star, but she is met by Kylo, who destroys the wayfinder and duels her. In a dying act, Leia calls to Kylo through the Force, distracting him as Rey impales him. Sensing Leia's death, Rey is overcome by guilt. She heals Kylo and takes his TIE fighter to exile herself on Ahch-To. Meanwhile, Kylo converses with a memory of his father, Han Solo. He throws away his lightsaber and reclaims his identity as Ben Solo. Sensing Leia's death and Ben's redemption, Palpatine sends a Star Destroyer to destroy Kijimi as a show of force. On Ahch-To, Luke's Force spirit encourages Rey to face Palpatine and gives her Leia's lightsaber. Rey leaves for Exegol in Luke's X-wing fighter, using the wayfinder from Kylo's ship.
Rey transmits her coordinates to R2-D2, allowing the Resistance, now led by Poe and Finn, to follow her to Exegol. There, she confronts Palpatine. He demands she kill him so his spirit can pass into her, which will allow him to possess her body. The Resistance launch an attack on the Sith fleet and Lando arrives with reinforcements from across the galaxy. Ben overpowers the Knights of Ren and joins Rey. Palpatine senses their power as a dyad in the Force and drains their power to rejuvenate himself. He incapacitates Ben and attacks the Resistance fleet with Force lightning. Weakened, Rey hears the voices of past Jedi, who give her strength. Palpatine attacks her with lightning, but Rey deflects it using Luke and Leia's lightsabers, killing Palpatine before dying herself. Ben uses the Force to revive Rey and they kiss before he dies. The Resistance defeats the remaining Sith forces, while people across the galaxy rise up against the First Order.
The Resistance celebrate their victory. Rey visits Luke's abandoned homestead on Tatooine and buries Luke and Leia's lightsabers. A passerby asks her name; seeing Luke and Leia's Force spirits nearby, she responds, "Rey Skywalker".
Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, the Force-sensitive leading general of the Resistance, mother to Ben Solo, Luke Skywalker's twin sister, and Anakin Skywalker's daughter. Fisher, who died in December 2016, appears through the use of repurposed unreleased footage from The Force Awakens.[c][d]
In January 2016, Trevorrow revealed he was considering shooting on film and that he had wanted to shoot "on location" in outer space with IMAX cameras. Trevorrow collaborated closely with Johnson whilst developing his script and even requested a scene featuring Rey and Poe be shot for The Last Jedi. In February 2016, Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger vaguely confirmed that production on Episode IX had begun.Carrie Fisher died in December 2016. Prior to the release of the film, Carrie Fisher's brother Todd Fisher, who planned her character General Leia Organa to appear in the film before her death, revealed that "she was going to be the big payoff in the final film" and "she was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak."
In late April 2017, Disney announced that 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 stated that Trevorrow had left the production following creative differences. Trevorrow's place as director was supposedly on ice since June 2017.The Hollywood Reporter reported that his working relationship with Kathleen Kennedy had become unmanageable after failing to deliver a satisfactory script, despite writing several drafts, nor were either happy with Thorne's revisions. Johnson was rumored as the top choice to replace Trevorrow as director, but stated "it was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX."David Fincher had discussions with the studio but would ultimately decline from directing the film.
The next day, it was announced that J.J. Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would return to direct the film, and that the film's release date would be moved to December 20, 2019. The story team met with George Lucas before writing the new script to discuss the nature of the Force. Abrams co-wrote the script with Chris Terrio, though Trevorrow and Connolly retain story credits. The story was rewritten to some extent before filming was completed. Terrio had written off working on larger-scale films at the time and did not socially know Abrams prior to agreeing to co-write the film with him. The film was produced by Abrams' company Bad Robot Productions, Kathleen Kennedy, and Michelle Rejwan. According to Terrio, the film's script had to include certain narrative beats provided by Kennedy and Rejwan, including the redemption of the character Kylo Ren. Abrams had also consulted with Johnson on making a film that both stood on its own but built upon previously established ideas and story elements. Until its official reveal, only Abrams knew the title of the film.
Before filming, Episode IX was initially given the working titleBlack Diamond, which was then changed to TrIXie in 2018, so that the roman numeral "IX" would be included in the working title. The film's title, The Rise of Skywalker, was announced at April 2019's Star Wars Celebration in Chicago.
Carrie Fisher, who played Leia Organa, died on December 27, 2016.Variety and Reuters reported that she had been planned for a key role in Episode IX. In January 2017, Lucasfilm stated that there were no plans to digitally generate Fisher's performance as they had for Rogue One (2016). The following April, Fisher's brother Todd revealed that Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, had granted Disney the rights to use recent footage of Fisher. However, a week later, Kathleen Kennedy stated that Fisher would not appear in the film. In July 2018, J. J. Abrams announced that unused footage of Fisher from The Force Awakens would be used to help complete the story.[e] In flashback scenes, digital de-aging was used for the appearance of Luke and Leia through the use of facial shots of both characters from the Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi respectively.
In July 2018, Keri Russell was in talks to play a part with some "action-heavy fight scenes", and it was confirmed that Billy Dee Williams would return as Lando Calrissian, onscreen for the first time since 1983's Return of the Jedi — marking one of the longest intervals between portrayals of a character by the same actor in American film history.[f] At the end of July, Russell was confirmed to have been cast, and there was an announcement of returning and additional new cast members. In late August, Deadline Hollywood announced that Dominic Monaghan and Matt Smith had been cast in unspecified roles; in 2019, Smith denied his involvement,[g] but he later clarified that he had been in talks for an unrealized "transformative" part. Early rumors from Making Star Wars claimed Smith was set to portray a "dark side acolyte" who gets possessed by Palpatine.Greg Grunberg reprises his role as Temmin "Snap" Wexley.
At Star Wars Celebration in April 2019, it was revealed via the film's teaser trailer that Ian McDiarmid would return to portray Palpatine. Since the event was held after principal photography wrapped, Abrams was thrilled that news of McDiarmid on the set never leaked. Kathleen Kennedy said they decided to reveal Palpatine's return ahead of the film's release because of the characters playing a larger role in the story, having them differentiated from Grogu, the character from The Mandalorian. Abrams had initially considered Palpatine returning while developing The Force Awakens.
Principal photography began on August 1, 2018, at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. Filming also took place in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Oscar Isaac stated that Abrams was allowing more improvised acting than in the previous two films. Due to the tight schedule, some editing took place on set. The crew on The Rise of Skywalker had three fewer months than they had to work on The Force Awakens leading to Maryann Brandon being sent in to cut on set a third of the way through production. Scenes detailing Palpatine's return were altered and changed during production as they were felt to "go off topic". The kiss between Rey and Ben was initially going to be excluded from the film, until Abrams decided against it at the last minute. Principal photography wrapped on February 15, 2019. Footage from the film was shown at The Walt Disney Company's annual shareholders meeting on March 7, 2019. Two weeks of reshoots took place at Pinewood involving Hamill, Ridley, and Isaac in July 2019. Another round of reshoots took place at Bad Robot Productions between late September and mid-October. Abrams stated that the film had fewer reshoots and story adjustments than Episode VII.
The visual effects were created by Industrial Light & Magic and supervised by Roger Guyett. Last minute ADR was recorded with Adam Driver, in which he recorded his lines in a closet. The film finished post-production on November 25, 2019. After John Boyega accidentally left a copy of the script in his hotel room, it was listed on eBay for around £65. A Disney employee identified the script as authentic and purchased it from the seller for an undisclosed sum.
In January 2018, it was confirmed that John Williams would return to compose and conduct The Rise of Skywalker. The next month, Williams announced that it would be the last Star Wars film for which he would compose the score (though he would later return to compose the theme music for the Disney+ miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi). In August 2019, it was revealed that Williams had written about 35 of an expected 135 minutes of music for the film, which according to Williams' brother Don, would incorporate all of the major themes of the Skywalker saga. Scoring began in July 2019 with Williams and William Ross conducting and orchestrating the sessions over the course of six months. The official soundtrack album was released by Walt Disney Records on December 20, 2019.
Despite staying silent about many details of the film, Abrams expressed his hopes that fans and general audiences would be "satisfied". He headed a panel dedicated to the film on April 12, 2019, during Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, where the film's title was revealed.
Additionally, the story events of the Disneyland themed area Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge precede the film, including the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run motion simulator, which features Chewbacca. On August 24, a new poster and "sizzle reel" was released at D23; the latter was released to the public two days later. The footage includes a montage of the Skywalker saga so far, as well as several new shots from the film.
The official novelization of The Rise of Skywalker is by Rae Carson; hardcover and audiobook versions were released on March 19, 2020. The novel details Palpatine's return in more depth: He transferred his consciousness into a clone body following his death in Return of the Jedi, and his "son", Rey's father, was a failed clone of Palpatine. The junior novel and corresponding audiobook are by Michael Kogge and was released on April 21, 2020. A five-issue Marvel Comics adaptation written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Will Sliney was planned to debut in mid-2020, but this was later cancelled, making the film the first in the franchise not to receive a serialized comic adaptation. A separate graphic novel adaptation was released by IDW Publishing in 2021.
A story arc of 2020's Darth Vader comic ties into The Rise of Skywalker, utilizing a creature cut from the film as well as Ochi. Further, a novel titled Shadow of the Sith, released mid-2022, explores the backstory of Luke and Lando as they investigate the dead world of Exegol.
The video game Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) released a free level set on Ajan Kloss. In December 2019, the video game Fortnite Battle Royale released several cosmetics featuring character outfits for Rey, Finn, a Sith Trooper, Kylo Ren, and Zorii Bliss along with a TIE Fighter glider, a Millennium Falcon glider (which was given to players for free from the Winterfest Event), four emotes, and two free banners. On December 14, Fortnite's publisher Epic Games released a preview of the film on an in-game theater screen as a live event. At the end of the event, a message from Palpatine (the one mentioned in the film's opening crawl) was heard. To coincide with the release of the film, a trailer for the forthcoming video game, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was released on the same day.
The film was originally planned to be released in the United States on May 24, 2019, before being pushed back to December 20. It had its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 16. Unlike most studio films, Disney reportedly did not hold test screenings for The Rise of Skywalker, instead only showing it to Abrams' friends and family, as well as a terminally-ill fan. Before the film's release, Disney issued a warning that the scenes with strobe-like flashing lights may trigger photosensitivemigraines and seizures.
The Rise of Skywalker grossed $515.2 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $561.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $1.077 billion, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of 2019.Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $300million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.
Pre-sale tickets went on sale on October 21, 2019, and the film sold more tickets in their first hour of availability on Atom Tickets than the previous record-holder for ticket sales, Avengers: Endgame (2019). It became Atom Tickets' second-best first-day seller of all time behind Endgame, selling more than twice the number of tickets as The Last Jedi sold in that same timeframe, while Fandango reported it outsold all previous Star Wars films. Box office tracking had The Rise of Skywalker grossing around $205 million in its opening weekend, though some firms predicted a debut closer to $175 million. The film made $89.6 million on its first day, including $40 million from Thursday night previews, the sixth-highest opening day of all time. It went on to debut to $177.4 million, which was the third-highest opening ever for a December release and the 12th-best of all time, and it was also noted that Saturday (which saw a 47% drop from Friday's gross) was the busiest shopping day of the year, likely affecting ticket sales. However, Deadline Hollywood did write that "we can't ignore the less than platinum B+" audience exit scores, which could affect the film's legs (box office longevity) moving forward. The film made $32 million on Christmas Day, the second-best total ever for the holiday after The Force Awakens' $49.3 million in 2015. It went on to have a five-day total of $138.8 million, including $76 million for the weekend. In its third weekend the film made $34.5 million, remaining in first, before being dethroned in its fourth weekend by newcomer 1917 (2019). On January 14, 2020, the film crossed the $1 billion mark at the box office, becoming Disney's seventh film of 2019 to do so. At the end of its box office run, it was third highest-grossing film of 2019 in this region behind Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King.
Worldwide the film was projected to gross around $450 million in its opening weekend, including $250 million from 52 international territories. It made $59.1 million from its first day of international release in 46 countries. The biggest markets were the United Kingdom ($8.3 million), Germany ($7.2 million), France ($5.3 million), and Australia ($4.3 million). In China, the film made $1.6 million (RMB11.6 million) through its first day. It went on to open to $198 million from overseas countries and $373.5 million worldwide, coming in below projections and 47% lower than The Last Jedi's total. Its biggest opening totals remained the UK ($26.8 million), Germany ($21.8 million), France ($15.2 million), Japan ($14.6 million), Australia ($12.6 million), and China ($12.1 million).
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 52% with an average score of 6.1/10, based on 521 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Rise of Skywalker suffers from a frustrating lack of imagination, but concludes this beloved saga with fan-focused devotion."Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 53 out of 100 based on 61 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Richard Roeper, reviewing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film three stars out of four, writing that it "rarely comes close to touching greatness, but it's a solid, visually dazzling and warmhearted victory [for] quality filmmaking."The A.V. Club's A. A. Dowd gave the film a C+, stating that the film "is so freighted with obligation that it almost groans under the weight, flashing a weak smile as it vaguely approximates the appearance of a zippy good time."Michael Phillips for Chicago Tribune wrote that the film "does the job. It wraps up the trio of trilogies begun in 1977 in a confident, soothingly predictable way, doing all that is cinematically possible to avoid [upsetting the] tradition-minded quadrants of the Star Wars fan base."
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle described the film as "a disappointment" and wrote, "For all the movie's faults, it's likely that most people will consider The Rise of Skywalker and accept the trade: Sit through a so-so 110 minutes to get to a strong half hour."Owen Gleiberman of Variety called the film "the most elegant, emotionally rounded, and gratifying Star Wars adventure since the glory days of Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980) ... but given the last eight films, the bar isn't that high." The BBC's Nicholas Barber praised the film's acting and wrote, "The Rise of Skywalker has been lovingly crafted by a host of talented people, and yet the best they can do is pay tribute to everything [George Lucas] did several decades ago."
Scott Mendelson for Forbes described the film as "possibly worse" compared to the previous Skywalker saga films while ending the main saga and "denying this new trilogy its artistic reason for existence". He also criticized the film for retconningThe Last Jedi and for its conventional plot twists, writing that the film is full of "patronizing reversals in the name of mollifying the fans who merely want to be reminded of the first three movies."Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times described the film as "a Last Jedi corrective", which is "the more accurate way to describe it" and represents "an epic failure of nerve". He further wrote it "feels more like a retreat, a return to a zone of emotional and thematic safety from a filmmaker with a gift for packaging nostalgia as subversion." Writing for The New Yorker, Richard Brody wrote that the film's faults "are those of the franchise over all", as the film's director "J. J. Abrams is mainly a distiller and a magnifier and brings virtually no originality to it". Brody said that it would have been better if a "boldly imaginative vulgarian such as Michael Bay" had instead created a "derisive wreckage" of Star Wars. Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com criticized the film, giving it 2.5/5 stars, and faulting it for "Terrible dialogue, disinterested performances, and an unconvincing, phony CGI aesthetic." And also criticized it for its "misdirection" and calling it "A movie that so desperately wants to please a fractured fanbase that it doesn't bother with an identity of its own", though he praised it for its "[r]emarkable set pieces".
Whereas Asian-American actress Kelly Marie Tran had around ten minutes of screen time in The Last Jedi, she appears for about a minute in The Rise of Skywalker. The reduced role was interpreted by some critics as a concession to fans who disliked her character; Tran had been a target of racist, fatphobic and misogynistic online harassment following the release of The Last Jedi. Multiple cast members involved on the previous film defended her, such as Boyega. Critics said she was "sidelined" into a minor character, and commented on how she was written out "without any explanation" and her minor role was considered by one critic to be "one of the film's biggest disappointments". In regards to the criticism towards her reduced screen-time, screenwriter Chris Terrio said it was due to the difficulty of including the deceased Carrie Fisher archive footage in scenes planned to feature both characters.
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, the lowest among the live-action films in the franchise. On PostTrak, audiences gave the film an average of four stars out of five, with 70% of respondents rating it as a "definite recommend". Of the demographics polled by PostTrak, parents gave it 5 stars and children under 12 years old gave it 4.5 stars, with 80% of males and 84% of females rating it positively. RelishMix, which tracks social media posts and online presence, "noticed a divided reaction to Skywalker online, though it leaned slightly positive".
Months prior to the film's trailer release, the "Want to See" percentage was review bombed on Rotten Tomatoes, dropping the score as low as 5% within a day. Negative comments reflected a "lingering negativity" toward The Last Jedi according to Screen Rant. After a similar bombing campaign occurred with the 2019 film Captain Marvel, Rotten Tomatoes temporarily changed the "Want to See" feature to a number and eventually removed the feature altogether.
Accolades received by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
Daniele Bigi, Steve Hardy, John Seru, and Steven Denyer for "Pasaana Desert"
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
Don Wong, Thibault Gauriau, Goncalo Cabaca, and Francois-Maxence Desplanques
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature
Jeff Sutherland, John Galloway, Sam Bassett, and Charles Lai
In a November 2021 interview by Empire, Kathleen Kennedy indicated that Lucasfilm creatives had been having conversations regarding the future of the sequel trilogy's characters. At Star Wars Celebration Europe IV in 2023, a new film directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was announced that will follow Rey as she attempts to rebuild the Jedi Order following the events of The Rise of Skywalker. Ridley is set to reprise her role as Rey. Kennedy also hinted at the possibility of other sequel trilogy characters coming back.
^The "Skywalker saga" refers to the main Star Wars film franchise, which consists of three trilogies.
^This is the second posthumous film performance by Fisher, who died in 2016 and appears through the use of unused footage from The Force Awakens.
^Unseen footage of Fisher from The Last Jedi was considered but not used.
^According to Todd Fisher, "There's a lot of minutes of footage. I don't mean just outtakes. This is unused, new content that could be woven into the storyline. ... It's going to look like it was meant to be. Like it was shot yesterday."
^Also tying this record is Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles, though he only makes a cameo appearance in The Rise of Skywalker.
^In April 2019, Disney's British website listed Smith as being in the film, but removed his and Monaghan's name the following month.
^ abCouch, Aaron (July 27, 2018). "Carrie Fisher to Appear in 'Star Wars: Episode IX'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 28, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2018. We desperately loved Carrie Fisher," Abrams said in a statement. "Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie [Lourd], we have found a way to honor Carrie's legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.