No one may ever know how much of the Star Wars sequel trilogy was planned out in advance, but one thing is certain; when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in one month, everyone is getting credit for it. As revealed by Collider and several other sources, the writing credit for The Rise of Skywalker will give story credit to two writers who have been fired by Lucasfilm: Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow. Does that mean elements from Trevorrow’s canceled version Episode IX will actually appear in Rise of Skywalker?
Speculation for Rise of Skywalker ahead.
If you’ve just dropped out of hyperspace or have been frozen in carbonite for the last few years, a brief history lesson. Soon after the release of the Force Awakens in 2015, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was given the space-keys to Episode IX, which was going into preproduction around the time Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII (The Last Jedi) was filming.
One writer working with Trevorrow on this script was Derek Connolly. The two had previously worked together on Jurassic World as well as the time travel rom-com, Safety Not Guaranteed. (Which might be Trevorrow’s greatest film.) Connolly also helped write Kong: Skull Island and Detective Pikachu. So, both of these guys have written a lot of good (or good-ish) movies.
After Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016, things started to change. Whatever Trevorrow and Connolly had cooked up for Episode IX had to be revised substantially. At one point, it was revealed that Jack Thorne — the guy who wrote Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — was brought in to work on the Episode IX script, but we haven’t heard much about that since.
By September 2017, Trevorrow had been fired from directing and writing Episode IX, and was eventually replaced by J.J. Abrams, who wrote a new screenplay — seemingly from scratch — with Justice League scribe Chris Terrio. Fast-forward to right now: just weeks before Rise of Skywalker opens, we learn Connolly and Trevorrow will get partial credit for the story of the film. But what does this really mean?
It’s very possible that nothing in this film is from the Connolly and Trevorrow script.
Apparently, the exact credit for writing of The Rise of Skywalker will read as follows:
- Screenplay by: Chris Terrio & J. J. Abrams
- Based on Characters Created by George Lucas
- Story by: Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow and Chris Terrio & J. J. Abrams
It’s possible this is a result of WGA (Writers Guild of America) rules. This is kind of like what happened when Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story and later given executive producer credits. Similarly, The Force Awakens credits the screenplay to “J.J. Abrams & Lawrence Kasdan” and Michael Arndt.
The distinction that’s relevant here is the ampersand (&) versus the word “and.” According to WGA rules, if the ampersand is used it means those two people worked on that screenplay (or story) together. If the word “and” is used, it means there’s a separate thing going on. Very, very frequently you see this with big studio movies with several writers.
TLDR: the story credit for “Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow” might mean nothing in reality and is simply the by-product of everyone following the union rules.
Then again, story credits obscure as much as they reveal
Right now, we don’t exactly know how much of the Connolly & Trevorrow story ended up in the story broth for The Rise of Skywalker, and chances are we never will. Publicly, the only thing we know that Trevorrow created for his Episode IX, was a nifty First Order spaceship called TIE Echelon, which right now, only exists as part of the Disney Parks Galaxy’s Edge attractions. We don’t know if this spaceship is canon, but if it pops-up in any way, shape or form, there’s proof right there that at least one part of Trevorrow’s story made it into Rise of Skywalker.
Since Episode IX had so many behind-the-scenes changes, it’s possible many people made contributions that we’ll never know about. One great example of this Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. If you watch the film, you’ll notice the credits look like this: “Screenplay by Jack B. Sowards” and “Story by Jack B. Sowards and Harve Bennet.” However, in numerous interviews and his memoir, The View From The Bridge, director Nicholas Meyer revealed he rewrote the screenplay from scratch and told producer Harve Bennet that he would waive his right to get a screenplay credit because the WGA arbitration would simply take way too long. (Like Rise of Skywalker; The Wrath of Khan was on a tight deadline.) So, when you watch the movie, the guy who The Wrath of Khan — Nicholas Meyer — isn’t credited as the writer, just as the director.
Now, everyone acknowledges The Wrath of Khan was pretty much 100 percent Meyer’s screenplay, but back in 1982, you could have had a similar debate to the one we’re having about The Rise of Skywalker. The point? Producer Kathleen Kennedy might technically deserve story credit on this movie, but the actual onscreen credit would never reveal it. Hell, Carrie Fisher herself had a long career of being a Hollywood script doctor and those credits never show up onscreen. So, just because you see someone’s name on the screen (or don’t), it often isn’t a reflection of reality.
Okay, so what was possibly in Trevorrow’s Episode IX, other than that weird TIE Fighter?
Right now, the big rumor claims it was Trevorrow and Connolly’s idea to bring back Emperor Palpatine. But until either of them and reveal exactly what happened, we’ll never know. When Rogue One came out in 2016, it wasn’t clear what was added during the reshoots from Tony Gilroy. But then, in 2018, Gilroy was pretty chatty about his experiences on making Rogue One, and even around the time the movie was still in theaters, there was good intel on the fact that the Darth Vader massacre scene was added at the last minute.
So, right now, the writing credits for Episode IX are shrouded in mystery, but that could change in the days ahead. Once Rise of Skywalker is in theaters, certain mysteries will be solved for Rey and Kylo Ren. And some of those might be connected to to things in our galaxy, too.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: A Movie Written by 1000 People is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.