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'Star Wars: Episode IX' begins production

The Force is with Lucasfilm Ltd. today as Walt Disney Pictures has officially announced the start of production on the still untitled “Star Wars: Episode IX”. Cameras will begin to role at London’s Pinewood Studios beginning next Wednesday, August 1, 2018. “The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams returns to direct what is officially being called the final installment of the Skywalker saga.

Abrams co-wrote the “Episode IX” screenplay with Chris Terrio. Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Newcomers to the cast include Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell and Richard E. Grant, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian. What’s more, the role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “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, 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’.”

Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the “Star Wars” saga since 1977’s “A New Hope,” will return to a galaxy far, far away with “Episode IX”. “Star Wars: Episode IX” will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).

“Star Wars: Episode IX” is scheduled for release in December 2019.