Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be arriving in theaters in just over a month, and it’s been a long road to get there. Not only did the Skywalker saga begin all the way back in 1977, but the road to getting just this final chapter done was certainly not an easy one.
Director Colin Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly were previously attached to finish this new trilogy of Star Wars movies, but they ended up parting ways with Lucasfilm in September of 2017. That left the door open for J.J. Abrams to return to the franchise and finish what he started with The Force Awakens. Though Abrams has talked about the challenge of crafting this final chapter from scratch, the final writing credits from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) may indicate otherwise.
Collider learned the WGA will be crediting the screenplay for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to Chris Terrio & J.J. Abrams. The two worked together on the screenplay, so that makes perfect sense. There will also be a credit that says the film is “Based on Characters Created by George Lucas.” Again, that’s a no-brainer. But it’s the story credits that have us raising our eyebrows in curiosity.
The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker writing credits also give J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio a “story by” credit, but along with that there’s also “Story by Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow” alongside that. That means The Rise of Skywalker has enough elements of what Trevorrow and Connolly were preparing for for the movie that the WGA thinks they deserve a story credit.
As for what details of Trevorrow and Connolly’s original story were used, we might never know. But awhile back, Abrams spoke to Fast Company and made it sound like they were starting from scratch. At the time, Abrams said:
“You’ve got two years from the decision to do it to release, and you have literally nothing . . . . You don’t have the story, you don’t have the cast, you don’t have the designers, the sets. There was a crew, and there were things that will be worked on for the version that preceded ours, but this was starting over. And because this was such a mega job, I knew at the very least I needed a co-writer to work on this thing, but I didn’t know who that co-writer would be. There was nothing. So the first thing I did was reach out to a writer who I’ve admired for years, Chris Terrio. who I didn’t really know, to say, “Listen, would you want to write Star Wars with me?” And he screamed.”
It’s possible that maybe Abrams and Terrio came up with some of the same ideas of how to use certain characters independently of Trevorrow and Connolly’s script. Or maybe they used basic elements that the duo introduced, such as new characters, ships, locations, etc., and adjusted them for their own story purposes. Perhaps even the most basic concept of something like bringing Emperor Palpatine back was enough to require Trevorrow and Connolly to get a writing credit on the movie, if only for legal purposes.
On the other hand, there’s always the possibility that part of Trevorrow and Connolly’s exit from the project included a deal to be credited with a “story by” credit if only so they could end up getting some of the residuals from the movie that they would no longer be making. It could be nothing more than a courteous business deal. Perhaps we’ll find out more once the movie is released, but I’m betting J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio won’t be too keen to talk specifics on that front.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20, 2019.
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