JJ Abrams' Original Rise of Skywalker Story (& Problems) Uncovered

Details about J.J. Abrams's original vision for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker have been detailed by a Star Wars fan. Released in 2019, The Rise of Skywalker was marketed not just as the end of the sequel trilogy that began in 2015 but also as the larger Star Wars franchise that began all the way back in 1977. While the film was a box office hit, grossing $1 billion worldwide, it was seen by many as a disappointment and a step down from the two previous films.

The movie had a troubled production history. Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was originally hired to direct in 2015 but departed the project in 2017 due to creative differences. Shortly after, Abrams, who had directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, returned to the director's chair and brought on board writer Chris Terrio, who won an Oscar for Argo. Since The Rise of Skywalker's release, much has been talked about Trevorrow's plan for Star Wars 9, which was titled Duel of the Fates but not much has been revealed about Abrams's plan for the film and how much changed over the course of development.


Related: Maybe It's Good Colin Trevorrow's Star Wars 9 Didn't Happen After All

A video titled "How Bad Movies Are Made feat. The Rise of Skywalker" by the channel Empire Wreckers was published on August 25, 2021, using information from interviews, behind-the-scenes videos on the making of The Rise of Skywalker, and The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker book the video is able to piece together some details about Abrams' original plans for the film. The video highlights how the finished film differed from the original plans Abrams and Terrio had, including a blind mechanic woman who was going to have a key to defeating the First Order, the various forms of the secret weapon originally intended to be created by rejected First Order members to the Sith Dagger. It also reveals how in post-production, editing and changing one minor detail would lead to a domino effect to impact the entire story: namely how Rey being a Palpatine and her arc shifted the final act of the film from two separate locations on Coruscant and an outpost in space to a single location of Exegol.

Click to watch original video on YouTube

The video highlights and dispels certain rumors regarding the production of The Rise of Skywalker, namely Rose Tico's diminished role. Many have taken the character's reduced part as giving into negative fan reaction to the character that lead to target harassment of star Kelly Marie Tran. However, as the video highlights, Abrams and Terriro's first draft of the story featured Rose staying behind from the mission, which was pitched to Bob Iger on the same day as The Last Jedi premiere, before any backlash. Abrams pitching to Iger in December 2017 meant that he had to come up with a new story for the film just four months after being hired.

This might be the eventual downfall of the movie more than anything. The Rise of Skywalker notably had the shortest development period of any film in the sequel trilogy, as Abrams had 27 months from when he was hired to work on the film, as opposed to the 36 months he had on The Force Awakens of 41 months Rian Johnson had for The Last Jedi and also had three months less to edit than The Force Awakens. The video highlights that despite popular belief, there were elements that were planned out for the trilogy in 2014 namely the idea of Rey adopting the last name of Skywalker and Leia being key to Kylo's redemption. The tragic passing of Carrie Fisher drastically altered those plans. It goes to show that no one sets out to make a bad movie and that there are a lot of factors that can impact or alter a finished film.