To garner better reviews, perhaps.
J.J. Abrams’ Rise of Skywalker has split opinion, with many of the reviews coming out as negative, however, it seems this cut of the film isn’t what the director actually wanted, and according to a number of sources, a 192-minute “JJ cut” could be released sooner than expected.
During an appearance on The Rough Cut podcast, Rise of Skywalker editor Maryann Brandon said that J.J. Abrams and the rest of the film’s team struggled with wanting to release a version that was more in line with the director’s vision, but Disney disallowed them for doing so.
It seems that after The Last Jedi divided opinion and left director Rian Johnson feeling the wrath of Star Wars fans, they didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
An insider told The Story is Not the Story, “they wanted to ensure that The Rise of Skywalker wrapped up the trilogy neatly, without creating any conflicts with fans of the original three films, through delivering moments that brought back classic characters, introduced special Jedi powers and reversed the Luke Skywalker moments that fans couldn’t stomach.”
They also didn’t want a film that was more than three hours long, given that this would have reduced the number of times that the film could have screened on a daily basis in cinemas – thus reducing the potential box office takings.
For Abrams, Disney’s demands meant having to severely change the film, as while they wanted to make up for the majority fan disappointment of The Last Jedi, after everything (including a number of cameos) were filmed, the director and his team were told it couldn’t all fit in the desired 140-minute runtime.
And to be fair, the rumoured cameos and callbacks could have been seen as overdoing the film’s “fan service” with the physical return of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) – and even a return to the Sarlacc pit. There were even scenes shot on Endor which were cut, leaving only a 3-second shot of the Ewoks in the finished product.
While Disney ensured the return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) there were also a number of other characters set to make a return, including a Cloud City reference which would have seen Lobot return alongside Lando (Billy Dee Williams), a Wampa cameo, and a secret Boba Fett connection, which were all cut for time.
But back to the JJ Cut – editor Brandon revealed that they barely had the time to get the current cut into cinemas. With this rushed opening, and the negative reviews and backlash that came thick and fast, Disney began to change their tune, realising that perhaps a 192-minute cut wouldn’t be so bad if it meant satisfying fans – and of course, earning even more money at the box office, as they did when releasing extra footage with Avengers: Endgame two months into its theatrical run.
According to a report by SNTS, the release on an extended version of The Rise of Skywalker will be announced soon, with the release potentially being released by the end of January. This version will include “3-5 additional sequences fit into the narrative” bringing the runtime up to around 165 minutes. Rumoured scenes in this cut are: an extended Endor sequence before the final shot in the film, a Lobot and Lando sequence which predates the chase in the desert, and a veritable bounty of Force Ghosts alongside Luke and Leia, as well as appearing in the final stand against the Emperor.
This cut will simply be an Extended Cut, with an additional post-credits scene which will highlight additional scenes which will be released with the official Blu Ray release of The Rise of Skywalker, where there will be a special J.J. Abrams Director’s Cut version of the film clocking in at around 185 minutes.
As well as this, when Rise of Skywalker hits Disney+, it will include an additional 7 minutes of extra footage which wasn’t completed in post-production, as an exclusive to the new streaming platform.
So fans might just get the entire JJ Cut of the film eventually, but is it too little, too late?