The final installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy finally has a name. During a panel at Star Wars Celebration today, Lucasfilm debuted the first trailer for Episode IX, which will officially be called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The film will be directed by J.J. Abrams, who kicked off Disney’s Star Wars efforts with The Force Awakens back in 2015. According to Abrams, the new installment takes place sometime after Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, in which Leia Organa’s Resistance movement was forced on the run and battered by the First Order. That film also saw the death of Luke Skywalker after a showdown with his nephew, Kylo Ren, who also killed the leader of the First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke.
The film will bring together Mark Hamill (presumably as a Force ghost), Carrie Fisher (through footage shot for The Force Awakens), as well as Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian. Other actors from the sequel trilogy — Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, and Anthony Daniels — will be back in their respective roles. The trailer also hinted at the return of Star Wars’ most notorious villain —after Hamill’s Skywalker intones that “No one’s ever really gone,” Emperor Palpatine’s iconic cackle can be heard in voiceover. Ian McDiarmid (who has played Palpatine in both the prequels and original trilogy) appeared on stage at celebration as the panel concluded as well.
The Rise of Skywalker could be the last Star Wars film we see for a little while. Following the lukewarm box office for last year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney CEO Bob Iger admitted that his company had oversaturated the market, and fans should expect a “slowdown” in film releases. Lucasfilm quietly killed an in-development standalone film about Boba Fett last fall. But Disney still has big plans for the franchise, even with no feature films scheduled — for now. The company is expected to release a live-action TV series called The Mandalorian on its streaming service Disney+ next year, and it has also announced a second live-action show featuring Rogue One actor Diego Luna.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will open on December 20th, 2019.