Star Wars 9 release date, trailer, title, and everything you need to know

Update: Star Wars 9 has its first official footage, and with it an actual title. Get ready to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker this December. With the Star Wars 9 trailer debuting at Star Wars Celebration 2019 we've witnessed the beginning of the end of forty years worth of Skywalker Saga cinematic history - with more than enough details to pick out in our lengthy Star Wars 9 trailer breakdown. Not only that, but the Star Wars 9 panel itself yielded some tantalizing new details about where J.J. Abrams' new tale in a galaxy far, far away will take us. 

Even more Star Wars 9 news is sure to come as Celebration continues in Chicago, and we'll be sure to keep you updated with all the biggest developments right here. Until then, feel free to read on and see everything we managed to put together about Star Wars 9 while it was still under wraps.

Original story: Lucasfilm have long been masters of secrecy, with very few spoilers ever making it past their watertight forcefields. But with Star Wars 9, they’ve surpassed themselves (and maybe even Marvel) when it comes to keeping things under wraps – there’s just eight months until the Episode 9 release date and we still have no Star Wars 9 trailer, no idea of the plot, no Star Wars 9 title...

But that’s all about to change – hopefully in spectacular style.

That’s because on Friday, April 12, Star Wars 9 director J.J. Abrams is coming to Chicago for Star Wars Celebration 2019 and bringing a panel for his new movie with him. Expect the Star Wars 9 cast to join him on stage, carefully vetted nuggets of information to emerge, a Star Wars 9 title announced, and new footage shown, probably in the form of a Star Wars 9 trailer.

Just to whet our appetites, returning Star Wars: The Force Awakens director Abrams told Fast Company about the “enormous challenge” of going back to a galaxy far, far away after Rian Johnson took the reins for Star Wars: The Last Jedi – and wrapping up the Skywalker saga with Star Wars 9.  

“It was a completely unknown scenario," Abrams admits. “I had some gut instincts about where the story would have gone. Episode 8 was a story that Rian wrote and was telling based on [Episode 7] before we met. So he was taking the thing in another direction. So our movie was not just following what we had started, it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else. And finally, it was resolving nine movies.” 

You can keep up with all the Star Wars 9 news unfolding at Star Wars Celebration here (here’s how to watch Star Wars Celebration 2019 for yourself if you want to), but in the meantime, here’s all the key intel on the Star Wars 9 cast, the Star Wars 9 plot, the Star Wars 9 trailer and everything else you need to know about the biggest movie in the galaxy...

Fast Facts:

  • Star Wars 9 release date: December 19, 2019 (UK)/December 20, 2019 (US)
  • Star Wars 9 director: J.J. Abrams
  • Star Wars 9 writers: J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio
  • Star Wars 9 cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Domhnall Gleeson, Kellie Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, Billy Dee Williams, Joonas Suotamo, Keri Russell, Dominic Monaghan

Star Wars 9 release date

It’s been down in our diaries for a while now: the Star Wars 9 release date is confirmed as December 20, 2019 in the US – though, as has become traditional, the Star Wars 9 release date for UK viewers is set to be a day earlier on December 19, 2019. 

In recent years, the franchise has come to dominate the holiday season as The Lord of the Rings did in the early 21st century – The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and The Last Jedi all made big money over the Christmas period – and it looks like that’s going to be the case again.

But even with an extensive post-production period to get through, in eight months we’ll be sitting down in cinemas watching Star Wars 9’s excitingly unfamiliar new opening crawl. Things could’ve been much different, though. The original Star Wars 9 release date was May 24, 2019 (one day before the original movie’s 42nd anniversary) but, as we’ll see later on, the departure of original director Colin Trevorrow meant pushing things back a little.

Read more: The most anticipated upcoming movies of 2018 and beyond

Star Wars 9 trailer

Having made it through the whole of 2018 and the Super Bowl without sighting a Star Wars 9 trailer, the closest we've got so far is Mark Hamill’s December tweet (below) featuring a car towing a trailer with the Star Wars logo on the side.

A Star Wars 9 trailer gag so funny, that he repeated it in March:

But there's probably mere days to wait for an actual Star Wars 9 trailer, because now we're almost certain our first look at the movie will come on Friday April 12, when J.J. Abrams brings his Episode 9 panel to Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. 

After all, now that he's finished principal photography on the movie, he should have been able to find a bit of free time to make sure the Star Wars 9 trailer is ready to go.

Besides, not giving us a Star Wars 9 trailer at Celebration would not only be ridiculously cruel and a certain route to the dark side for Mr Abrams, it would break with a tradition that’s seen previous Celebrations debuting new trailers for The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi. Indeed, The Last Jedi’s Celebration Orlando appearance in 2017 marked the first time anyone had seen footage from that movie, so it would be no surprise for the Star Wars 9 trailer to follow suit.

And Lucasfilm arguably need to get something out there pretty soon, after mixed reaction to both The Last Jedi and Solo made the fanbase antsy – perhaps a Star Wars 9 trailer is needed to prove they haven't forgotten how to make new Star Wars movies.

A convenient consequence of this timing is that Disney will be able to run a Star Wars 9 trailer in front of Avengers: Endgame, when the eagerly anticipated new Marvel movie hits cinemas later in April – a theory that’s backed up by (unconfirmed) reports from Star Wars News Net.

Read more: The best Star Wars movies, ranked

Star Wars 9 title

Star Wars 9 title

A secret to rival the official Avengers 4 title, Endgame, the Star Wars 9 title will undoubtedly generate a lot of buzz when it’s finally unveiled. Who'd have guessed, however, that the new movie would still be waiting for a title 8 months from release? And no, the working title, TrIXie (see what they did with the Roman numerals IX there?) does not count.

While Solo’s “surprising nobody” title was officially announced a mere eight months before release, the “Episodes” of the Skywalker-focused “Saga” movies have given us rather more of a heads-up. The Force Awakens was named over a year before it hit cinemas, while The Last Jedi’s title reveal came 11 months before the movie was unleashed. Star Wars 9 has already slipped behind this schedule, but expect the Star Wars 9 title to land before April 11 – Lucasfilm simply has to let the name slip before or during Star Wars Celebration, not least because it’ll be revealed as soon as any toy packaging leaks out of the event.

Read more

Star Wars timeline: Every major event from a galaxy far, far away in chronological order

As for Star Wars 9 title specifics, one rumor reported by Comicbook (and bear in mind we've seen no evidence to confirm this has any basis in fact) has the movie's name as Son of Darkness. It's certainly pitched at Revenge of the Sith levels of bleakness, and assuming it refers to Kylo Ren, it would make a lot of sense to the story. After all, Star Wars Episodes 1-9 are essentially the Skywalker family saga, and (as far as we know) the former Ben Solo is the end of that famous bloodline – nobody ever said the protagonist of a Star Wars movie has to be on the side of good. 

Whether or not being the “Son of Darkness” is Kylo Ren’s ultimate destiny, it seems star Adam Driver has known where the character’s headed for a long time. “With Star Wars, I had one piece of information of where it was all going,” he told Deadline. “That’s where it has been in my head for a long time, and things were building towards that.”

But if we’re going by previous Star Wars movie names (and why not? Echoes of previous stories have long been a recurring theme in Star Wars), then the frontrunner for Star Wars 9 title would be a variation of Revenge/Return of the _______. Most fans will probably settle for Return of the Skywalker at this point after their reaction to Luke’s death in The Last Jedi – and Mark Hamill himself has even opened up about the Star Wars 9 title. Kinda. Taking to Twitter, he exclusively ‘revealed’ that the first word of the title is “The”. Gee, thanks…

Star Wars 9 cast

It’s fair to say the Star Wars 9 cast is strong with the Force. Not only are we getting familiar faces in the shape of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Joonas Suotomo, Billie Lourd, and Oscar Isaac, but the old guard are along for the ride as well. 

The late Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and – in his first Star Wars movie since Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Billy Dee Williams are all making their presence felt in what should be an intriguing clash of old and new.

The Star Wars 9 cast also features some new faces who are coming along for a trip into hyperspace. On the ‘absolutely confirmed’ list, we’ve got Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell, and Naomi Ackie. Alongside that, we’ve got a few of those pesky rumours and almost-concrete confirmations for the likes of Dominic Monaghan of Lord of the Rings and Lost fame. 

We also thought Matt Smith was also going to be in Star Wars 9, but the former Doctor Who star has told the LA Times: “As far as I can tell, I’m definitely not [in it].” Seems fairly definitive at first glance – but don't be surprised if he's using some Sith-style deception, especially as one rumor reported by Screenrant suggested that he’ll be playing a young Palpatine in Star Wars 9.

Carrie Fisher’s untimely death in late 2016 obviously changed the shape of Star Wars 9. The late actress will appear using “previously unreleased footage” from The Force Awakens rather than the CG technology that brought back a young Leia at the end of Rogue One. In a statement on the official Star Wars site, J.J. Abrams said: “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher. 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 9 by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode 7.” 

It'll be interesting to see how Abrams incorporates those scenes into the movie, seeing as the original plan was for Star Wars 9 to put the spotlight on Leia, just as The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi gave Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, respectively, their own big send-offs. In an interview with the Daily Beast, however, Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) said that it will definitely pay homage to the princess. “The story deals with that quite a bit,” he revealed. “It’s a strange thing to be on the set and to be speaking of Leia and having Carrie not be around. There’s definitely some pain in that.” But, he added, “It deals with the amazing character that Carrie created in a really beautiful way.”

It also looks like Abrams hasn't just been working with scraps to keep Leia in Star Wars 9. Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd, told ABC News: “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. That’s what’s going to give everybody such a great kick. It’s going to look like it was meant to be. Like it was shot yesterday.” He stopped short of giving any specifics about Leia's role in Star Wars 9, however: “We’re not allowed to talk about the details of anything. But we’re thrilled at what’s been done.”

Mark Hamill, meanwhile, could have called time on his Star Wars run as Luke Skywalker faded away at the end of The Last Jedi. But that hasn’t stopped Lucasfilm from being upfront about bringing the franchise stalwart back and officially announcing he’s part of the Star Wars 9 cast. Given the traditional Jedi approach to the afterlife, it seems fairly safe to predict he’ll be appearing in Force ghost form – an option not possible for Han Solo after he was impaled on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber in The Force Awakens.

As the biggest character from the original trilogy not to make it back for the new Force films, Lando Calrissian’s absence was felt in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Still, Abrams and co have seemingly listened to the fans by bringing Billy Dee Williams into the Star Wars 9 cast to reprise his role as the galaxy’s suavest scoundrel. What Lando’s been up to over the last three decades is something of a mystery, but seeing as he had “no love for the Empire,” we’re guessing he feels the same way about the First Order. 

While this is Williams’ first on-screen appearance as Lando since Return of the Jedi, he has been back to voice the character in Star Wars Rebels and The Lego Movie. And the 81-year-old star has shown on Twitter that he’s been training hard to make sure Lando hasn’t lost his charm...

And of course, it wouldn't be Star Wars without Anthony “C-3PO” Daniels, who’s appeared in every live-action movie except Solo, and wrote a sweet message on Twitter when he wrapped on Star Wars 9.  

And going on what Oscar Isaac told Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show (reported by Entertainment Weekly), 3PO isn't winding down quietly in his final appearance. “[Anthony Daniels] was super emotional about it and hanging up the golden cowl. And I think, really, and I mean this, this time he kept saying this was the most fun he’s had ’cause he had so many fun things to do and we got to work a lot together. It was just amazing to see that piece of history close.”

The list of newcomers in the Star Wars 9 cast is arguably one of the most compelling reasons to buy a ticket to a midnight screening of the movie. Richard E. Grant, despite his protestations, has long been linked with playing the former Extended Universe villain Grand Admiral Thrawn. 

The blue-skinned baddie would chime with Grant’s long, long history of playing nasty men – just look at his turn in Logan if you need convincing – but the fact that Thrawn is last seen being whisked away to uncharted regions of space in the final episode of Star Wars Rebels (over three decades ahead of Star Wars 9 in Star Wars chronology) may make this tricky in story terms. 

But, Grant’s reaction to J.J. Abrams telling him who he's playing suggests it's kind of a big deal. As ComicBook.com reported: “[J.J.] described the part, and I think he told me what my name was, at which point the room went upside down.” 

Unless Grant is a closet uber-fan, you wouldn't expect him to respond like that to Thrawn, as iconic as the Imperial commander is. There is, however, another exciting possibility. Leaked Star Wars 9 concept art  appears to show Grant in a First Order uniform. Could he be playing Brendol Hux? The father of Domhnall Gleeson’s snarling General Armitage Hux,  a former Imperial officer, and one of the founders of the First Order, Hux Sr has appeared in several novels but is yet to make an appearance on screen. Star Wars 9 could be his time...

The two new women stepping into the Star Wars franchise will also be adding some oomph to proceedings. Keri Russell, star of The Americans, has been cast for what is, apparently, an action-heavy role. She’s an Abrams regular, having played the title role in his pre-Alias TV show Felicity, and also appears in his first-ever feature film, Mission: Impossible 3. Expect her to maybe take on a defining mission or two, should she choose to accept them.

It’s newcomer Naomi Ackie, though, who’s the biggest mystery in the Star Wars 9 cast. Some set photos (below), we think, may show her in action for the first time, but she’s a relatively unknown actress. Except, hey, unknown actors and actresses, more often than not, tend to thrive in the series – neither Daisy Ridley nor Kelly Marie Tran’s filmographies were brimming before they jetted off to that galaxy far, far away. We’re excited about this one, especially when taking into consideration a previously-discovered casting call that lines up pretty perfectly with Ackie: She’s 18-24, an “ethnic female”, and a “leader and problem solver, smart with a great sense of humor and a strong will. All this comes to her effortlessly”. 

Continue to Page 2 for Star Wars 9 set photos, plot, and more