The creative world behind Star Wars is now facing the fact that it will have to continue the franchise without one of its biggest stars, Princess Leia’s Carrie Fisher.
Her unexpected passing last month not only shocked the world, but created a logistical nightmare for the writers and producers behind Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX. And at the same time, they still had to find time to mourn not only a colleague, but a friend.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit says that while Fisher had indeed finished filming for Episode VIII, which is due to hit theaters at the end of the year, nothing has been shot yet for 2019’s Episode IX, and what had become Gen. Leia was supposed to have a much more expanded role in that outing.
At least two key scenes are planned for Episode VIII and Episode IX: A Leia reunion with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and a confrontation with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), her son who killed Harrison Ford’s Han Solo in 2015’s The Force Awakens.
It’s expected the reunion with Luke was planned for Episode VIII, and the final confrontation in Episode IX. But none of that was clear.
Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, the writers behind the 2015 hit Jurassic World, are in line to write Episode IX, but Lucasfilm hasn’t shared how far along that work is, and how much might have to be reworked now that Fisher will no longer be a part of the project.
The good news, reporter Kit said, was that Trevorrow and Connolly will have plenty of time to make adjustments.
Filming for Episode IX is not even expected to begin until next year at the earliest, which will then make its way to theaters in time for Christmas 2019.
Among options that could be considered is changing the story to put another character where Leia was supposed to be in some key scenes, or they could even write her out completely. Changes that take place for Episode IX also could greatly affect Episode VIII, a film writer and director Rian Johnson already has had to modify quite a bit after Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams made significant changes to his film in post-production.
One other option, however, could generate mixed responses from fans.
Another solution is to use CGI effects; a reduced role could mean Leia would only appear in glimpses.
Rogue One, the Star Wars anthology film that is set to possibly become the biggest film of 2016, utilized CGI characters of real people extensively. The primary one recreated Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin from the original trilogy, despite the fact Cushing himself died in 1994.
Even Fisher was involved in those CGI recreations, where computers recreated her likeness from 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope.
Even if a decision is made during meetings next week at Lucasfilm, it’s likely fans won’t be clued in on anything that is put together. In fact, we might not even get our first hint about the future of Leia in the Star Wars films until Episode VIII is released in December.
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