Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has had a long and storied history to the big screen, with lots of collaborators and cooks in the Episode IX saga-ending kitchen. Now, we’ve heard that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has finally settled on who will get final writing credit on the epic film. And it’s a little surprising.
The screenplay will be credited to “Chris Terrio & J. J. Abrams,” with the ampersand indicating that the two worked together. The film will also have a “Based on Characters Created by George Lucas” credit. So far, this all makes sense. But the WGA also decided The Rise of Skywalker will have a “Story by Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow and Chris Terrio & J. J. Abrams” credit. And if you recall, Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World) was originally set to co-write and direct Episode IX before being ousted in favor of Abrams returning. Which means that the WGA likely decided some of what Trevorrow and Connolly were originally planning for the film made it into the final product. It also means that they will receive a good amount of residuals, which is a pretty nice consolation prize for not seeing the final film through.
The final WGA arbitration does come as a bit of a surprise, especially given Abrams’ quotes in an interview with Fast Company where he said he was starting with “no script.”
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 cowriter to work on this thing, but I didn’t know who that cowriter 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.
This story, which literally uses the phrase “starting over,” sure makes it seem like Abrams and Terrio started over, using nothing of Trevorrow and Connolly’s vision. And yet, they are credited on the final product. So did Abrams approve of and incorporate some of Trevorrow and Connolly’s version after all? Were some of their ideas just too good to pass up? Did Abrams make sure his writing predecessors were taken care of no matter what?
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits the big screen December 20, 2019, which gives all of us plenty of time to speculate.