Three hours and twelve minutes.
According to anonymous sources inside multiple organizations like Lucasfilm, Disney and Bad Robot and confirmed through additional reporting like Deadline’s interview with The Rise of Skywalker editor, Maryann Brandon; J.J. Abrams and TROS team struggled with wanting to release the cut that more closely matched the Director’s vision, but were disallowed from doing so.
That cut? The J.J. Abrams Director’s Cut, clocking in at no less than one hundred and ninety-two minutes.
But why, if there was a more complete cut, that could include all the amazing moments J.J. wanted fans to see, would the final theatrical version be less than? For what inane reason would such a short-sighted decision have been made?
I won’t make you wait for it.
The reason? Disney brass were so concerned after The Last Jedi divided fans and created a maelstrom of anger towards Director Rian Johnson, that they didn’t want to leave anything up to chance. An insider tells The Story is Not the Story that “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 over three hours, which would have reduced the number of times the film could have screened on a daily basis in theaters, thus reducing their potential box office. And with The Last Jedi having divided fans, the last thing Disney wanted was to divide them any further. But they’d lost their way. Even Disney’s Bob Iger had admitted to the brand’s over saturation after Solo and didn’t want to saturate the brand any further by delivering a cut they weren’t sure could get it done. Disney didn’t even know what the fans wanted anymore; they were shooting fish in a barrel. If this final movie was also a misstep, they’d want to bag as much money as they could as quickly as they could, and a three plus hour cut wouldn’t let them do that.
For J.J. Abrams it was whiplash. Disney wanted to deliver a movie that would make up for the last one, but after all the sequences and cameos were shot, they were told it couldn’t all fit into the 140 minute goal they didn’t want to exceed.
And exceed they did. The cameos and callbacks were so numerous, it was too much to pack into a film; yet J.J. didn’t want to let anyone down. Some felt that they had “overdone the fan service” to the point of ridiculousness, mandating the return of characters like Ewan MacGregor’s Obi Wan, Samuel Jackson’s Mace Windu, Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn, Jake Lloyd’s Anakin Skywalker and even a trip back to the Sarlacc pit. There were sequences shot on Endor that were referenced in The Rise of Skywalker yet only showed up in a 3 second wide shot featuring some of the Ewoks. While Disney did mandate a return for The Emperor, there were even more characters who landed in footage that was cut out of the final released cut. A Cloud City reference brought back Lobot alongside Billy Dee Williams but was cut for time, a Wampa cameo was removed at the last minute, and a secret Boba Fett connection was said to have also been written, shot, but never finished in post.
But let’s get back to that 192 minute J.J. Abrams cut.
According to the editor of The Rise of Skywalker, Maryann Brandon, they barely had the time to get the current cut into theaters. They wanted to do so much more. As was witnessed by the rushed opening to the film and according to anonymous sources on the inside, as the reviews and backlash has begun to build around The Rise of Skywalker and the not-so-great critical reviews (the lowest out of the entire nine films), Disney brass began to change their tune. Maybe 192 minutes wasn’t so bad if it meant there was an opportunity to bag even more box office like they’d done on Avengers: Endgame by including additional footage two months into its release.
The game plan had worked on Endgame and as early as December 28th, the rumbling started to grow louder. What about releasing the extended version of The Rise of Skywalker into theaters around late January, after the fanboys and girls had already paid to see it once or twice? The plan would be to release a longer version that included 3-5 additional sequences, then hint at the even longer Director’s Cut for it’s digital and home entertainment release. With an exclusive run on Disney Plus they would draw even more engagement by keeping those added sequences not in the re-release as exclusives to the service. That would clearly drive even more subscribers to the new streaming service as well.
So here we sit. With the J.J. Cut trending and the Internet abuzz, wondering what’s real and what’s next.
The word is this:
- An extended version of The Rise of Skywalker will be announced in the coming week, releasing near the end of January, and including 3-5 additional sequences fit into the narrative. This should bring the cut up from 142 minutes to about 165 minutes.
- Rumored sequences to be included in this cut involve an extended Endor sequence that occurs before the final shot in the current film, Lobot and Lando in a sequence that predates the chase in the desert, and a slew of ghost Jedis returning alongside Luke and Leia and participating in the final sequence to unseat the Emperor.
- This new cut will be simply treated as an Extended Cut, and will include a post-credits sequence highlighting additional sequences that will be released with the official Blu Ray release of The Rise of Skywalker which will have a special J.J. Abrams Director’s Cut version of the film at 185 minutes.
- When The Rise of Skywalker enters the streaming window exclusively on Disney Plus it will include an additional 7 minutes of extra footage that didn’t get finished in post production as a part of its exclusive run on the streaming upstart.
This is what we’re hearing here at SNTS. As we explained up top, this is from folks on the inside, who tipped us anonymously, so you can take this as gospel or drivel — that’s up to you.
But three hours and twelve minutes?
Does anyone really need that?