What the Delay of the ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Novelization Might Mean for ‘Episode IX’ (Commentary)

Everything seems to be in constant flux in the world of “Star Wars”

There’s been plenty of behind-the-scenes wreckage with “Star Wars” films this year — including the upcoming  Han Solo film and “Episode IX” replacing their directors. But there’s also a surprise victim of the messiness: the novelization for this year’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Novelizations have always been a fun way for “Star Wars” fans to dive deeper into the films — and the last two “Star Wars” films novelizations were released on the same day as their film counterparts. But “The Last Jedi” book is being pushed all the way to March 6, which is weird.

Releasing the recent movies on the days films premiered helped protect fans from spoilers — something “Star Wars” was less worried about in the days of the prequels, when online spoilers were less prevalent. But delaying a book for three months would seem like an overreach.

If I had to guess (and I do, because neither LucasFilm nor Penguin Random House has yet responded to our requests for comment on this matter), I would say this odd delay is somehow related to the creative chaos that has plagued the “Star Wars” films in the new Disney era.

And not just they seemingly like to fiddle with the movies up to release — you’ll recall the copious scenes and dialogue from “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One” trailers that didn’t make it into those films. More specifically, this probably has something to do with “Episode IX.”

The big news of the past couple weeks in the world of “Star Wars” is that writer/director Colin Trevorrow left that movie, with JJ Abrams taking over those duties with help from writer Chris Terrio. There were also reports back in August of another writer, Jack Thorne, being hired to do rewrites.

And, of course, there’s that little detail about “Episode IX” being moved from May to December, making it the third film in the new trilogy to be bumped. w

It would all seem to indicate that “Episode IX” is a movie that remains very much in flux.

The filmmakers of the new trilogy have made no secret of the fact that they’ve had their fingers in each other’s movies in various ways. “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson influenced some changes to “The Force Awakens” and Trevorrow did the inverse and had Johnson shoot something for him.

These three movies are a unit, and LucasFilm wants them to be cohesive. With Trevorrow out and a new creative team in on “Episode IX,” the big picture plan is almost certainly changing. Which would make you think that “The Last Jedi” will have to change, too.

Assuming Abrams and Terrio really were only hired this week (and that this isn’t a retroactive announcement of something that happened in secret, long ago), it’s probably going to be a minute before they even figure out what changes they’ll be making.

The novelization is potentially a bit of a more complicated beast than than the movie, as counterintuitive as that may sound. That’s because, obviously, novelizations provide a narrative that is expanded from what’s in the movie. While it’s likely whatever changes are made to “The Last Jedi” film will be small — or may possibly involve simply cutting scenes, instead of adding them — the powers that be may want to include more explicit ties setting up “Episode IX.”

LucasFilm has kept a tight hand on novelizations — in “Rogue One,” for instance, scenes from the movie are depicted nearly verbatim. Whatever they want to do with this novelization of “The Last Jedi” to fill out the narrative and lead into “Episode IX,” it’s going to be deliberate and purposeful.

Following that line of thought, it would make sense for this delay to be a “wait and see” kind of thing — they have to find out what Abrams and Terrio are going to write before they can figure out what to put in this book —  or remove from it.

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