Rise of Skywalker DVD, digital release will disappoint fans in one major way
Palpatine came back and destroyed all the deleted scenes.
When The Rise of Skywalker hits digital download on March 17, there will be a few behind-the-scenes featurettes, but no deleted scenes. Unless something changes at the last minute, J.J. Abrams did not record a director's commentary track, either.
For those who are still seething with rage about Last Jedi retcons, wondering if Colin Trevorrow's version would have been better, or scratching their heads over the seemingly critical details omitted from the final film, The Rise of Skywalker digital download, DVD and Blu-ray will offer no secrets. That omission of unused material speaks volumes.
The Rise of Skywalker left a lot of fans and critics feeling like it could have been better. Even co-writer Chris Terrio said he wished the movie could have been split into two films. Conspiracy theorists insist that a repressed #AbramsCut of the film must exist and that Disney conspired to make the movie as milquetoast as possible. Lucasfilm's decision not to include any commentary or deleted scenes will likely fuel this paranoia.
Perhaps Lucasfilm is hoping that the very real backlash to the film will just go away as time passes. The thing is, they're probably right.
The Rise of Skywalker was a basic, pumpkin spice Star Wars product.
In a year or two, the general meh-ness of The Rise of Skywalker will probably seem like a distant memory. The nerd outrage cycle will have other things to be mad about, and Lucasfilm is already in PR overdrive to distract you from your Rise of Skywalker hangover. Don't like how things turned out for the Jedi in Rise of Skywalker? Good news! Lucasfilm is rebooting the Jedi with a bunch of books that are definitely a much bigger deal than any movies! Hate the Jedi and are sick of stories connected to those darn Skywalkers? That's okay, The Mandalorian is coming back before the end of the year, and the only lightsaber there is the Darksaber.
We've quite clearly entered a transitional phase of Star Wars. While loyalists might see the buzz around the High Republic book series as proof the franchise is doing fine, that project has been around since 2014, and book deals are far cheaper (and less risky) for Lucasfilm than movies. What's more, there was truth to the rumors the Obi-Wan series was in trouble. Clearly, Lucasfilm is being more cautious and measured with rolling out new Star Wars projects.
In early 2016, after The Force Awakens made (nearly) everyone happy, Lucasfilm was brimming with confidence. Despite a lot of well-publicized drama behind the scenes, all the subsequent Disney Star Wars movies performed well at the box office. Rise of Skywalker did too, even if it feels like a net loss financially and culturally. Lucasfilm is cutting its losses with this release and isn't going to try and make it special. The bottom line is, they don't actually need to.
The vast majority of people who dislike The Rise of Skywalker don't hate it for the reasons that hardcore fans do. They probably just don't like it because it's confusing. For all the lip service we give to Reylos, shipping, or people mad about Rey's parentage one way or another, those are things that only a small segment of fans care about. Most of them won't care about a lack of deleted scenes.
Looking for expanded material? There's a novelization coming, not to mention the promise that the comic book adaptation will have "deleted scenes." But that stuff is for fans, not your average viewer, and certainly not your average family.
Lucasfilm knows this. They know the audience is much bigger than the hardcore folks debating on Twitter and Reddit. So, the message they're sending with the home video release of The Rise of Skywalker is basically the same as the theatrical release. This isn't for the people who look at the nitty-gritty of whether or not people in Star Wars can read books or if the Sith Loyalists are immortal or if Palpatine is a clone or not.
The Rise of Skywalker was a basic, pumpkin spice Star Wars product made with the most basic of sensibilities. Like it or hate it, that's what it is: a product. And it looks like, for now, by keeping the lid on deleted scenes or roads not taken, Lucasfilm is planning on keeping it that way.
The Rise of Skywalker hits digital download on March 17.