In a week and a half, Rogue One will be the latest installment of the Star Wars cinematic universe. Then times darken again since we won’t get our next Star Wars fix for another 365 days until the still-unnamed Episode VIII finally gets released. The Han Solo spinoff adventure will burst onto the scene in 2018, followed by Star Wars Episode IX in another three years from now.
So, with so much time between now and Episode IX, why on Earth would they begin production so soon?
According to Project Casting, they have it on good authority that the third edition of the new trilogy will begin shooting at Pinewood Studios in London in April of 2017. That’s two years away from its rumored release date of May 23, 2019. However, there’s always the chance it could be pushed back to December (similar to what happened with Episode VIII), meaning that production could begin on Episode IX nearly two-and-a-half-years prior to its release.
Now, this would seem to mimic the path Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII took during its principal photography. That film started production in September 2015, and returned to the Irish Isles which served as a stand-in for the water planet Ahch-To (where Rey and Luke had their epic stare down). They needed to get in there early since the weather went from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. Still, once that scene wrapped, production didn’t resume until March 2016 with an original release date still in play for May 26, 2017. Johnson said he needed more time, Disney granted it, and now Episode VIII wrapped production this past July… 17 months prior to its release date of December 15th, 2017.
Should Episode IX stick to its current release date, its production will kick off a full two years prior to its release. However, with Avengers 4 hitting theaters only 20 days ahead of IX, expect Disney to put some distance between its blockbusters and shift Star Wars back to December (where the franchise seems to be comfortable).
Now, you’re looking at 32 months in-between the start of production and the movie’s eventual release. So, what could cause this early jump into production?
Perhaps Colin Trevorrow’s movie picks up right where Johnson’s leaves us, and Trevorrow wants to use preexisting sets for his movie to help with continuity (similar to Johnson following J.J. Abrams). It could also be due to actors’ schedules. If spring works best for everyone involved, and a script is already finished, they might as well get going early in case issue arise — this way you don’t lose part of your cast due to scheduling conflicts. Or, it could all have to do with the film.
Unlike his predecessors, Colin Trevorrow is using a different kind of film for Episode IX. Both Abrams and Johnson used a 35mm, but Trevorrow is going with a new 65mm film that will allow him to capture a larger frame at a higher quality (similar to what IMAX uses). While using different film may not seem like a big deal, it will take a lot longer to process what Trevorrow is shooting. Kodak has a new processing center that is working with 65mm film… and Episode IX will be sort of a test subject for the film. Doing something experimental like this could be the reason Trevorrow and Disney want to kick-start production ASAP, ensuring everything with the new film goes as smoothly as possible.
Honestly, the reasoning behind an incredibly early start doesn’t really matter. Episode IX‘s current release date isn’t going to get moved forward a couple of months because of today’s news. What’s great is that Disney is so confident in the script and director that they’re willing to move forward with production ahead of schedule. Hopefully, that all means we get a solid conclusion to the new trilogy once Episode IX is released at some point in 2019.