Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (lost original J.J. Abrams cut of Star Wars film; existence unconfirmed; 2019)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released to theaters in December 2019. The final movie was only around two and half hours long and was met with mixed reception as it had served as the final movie in Disney's Star Wars trilogy. While fans and critics did notice some odd inconsistencies with the film, it would not be until January 1st, 2020, when a Reddit post on the subreddit r/saltierthancrait by user egoshoppe who has insider connections went into great detail as to what went down during the production of the The Rise of Skywalker and how the final film submitted by Abrams was not the film shown in theaters, and that a three-hour cut of the movie was made in November 2019, dubbed "the J.J. cut". The user also went into detail about how Abrams clashed with Disney over the overall direction of the film. Scenes that sought to give plot support and closures to minor and supporting characters, explain why various characters who had died in the first few films showed up out of nowhere and as to why Force ghosts had shown up in the final battle. While speculation that the final cut would be released on Disney+ in 2020 and Abrams reportedly being in talks with Lucasfilm, the J.J. cut of The Rise of Skywalker has yet to be released.
In October of 2012, Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise from creator George Lucas and announced a new sequel trilogy. In August of 2015, Colin Trevorrow director of Jurassic World was chosen to direct The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars the Rise of Skywalker entered pre-production in February of 2016 under the working title Black Diamond. From the start, production was troublesome with numerous clashes over the direction of the movie. With the death of Carrie Fisher on December 27th, 2016 production faced a significant setback as her character Princess Leia was very critical to the original plot of the movie. Due to Carrie Fisher's death, the script of The Rise of Skywalker was significantly overhauled and this would eventually lead to the departure of Colin Trevorrow as the director in September of 2017. J.J. Abrams who by then had directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens was tapped to replace Colin Trevorrow as director. As production resumed, according to the now famous Reddit post, Disney and Abrams clashed frequently with Disney demanding a change to the story with scenes having already been shot. After Abrams had submitted the film to Disney, it is claimed that Disney re-edited the film to remove scenes and re-record over audio in order to fit their vision of the film.
Confirmed Changes and Other Claims
Upon completion of the film in November of 2019, J.J. Abrams submitted a three-hour film to Disney for distribution. The famous Reddit post highlights the following changes and claims according to his source as he goes through the animosity that went on during and after production.
- "The TROS we saw last night [referring to opening night] was not the TROS we thought we worked on."
- Abrams was devastated and blindsided by changes.
- Abrams had felt threatened by Disney and did not know what they would do behind his back.
- While Abrams' cut of the film exists, the only way it will ever be released is if someone leaks it.
- Force ghosts were removed in order to have the movie premiere in China as Chinese censors forbid the use of ghosts in movies.
- The original ending saw actors who were in other Star Wars films such as Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, and Samuel L. Jackson reprise their roles as force ghosts.
- All of the actors brought back as Force ghosts were in costume and the scene was filmed.
- Rey was supposed to be surrounded by the Force ghosts to serve as sort of a barrier between her and the Sith surrounding them in the final duel.
- Kylo Ren's scene on Mustafar was supposed to be two minutes longer and would have him be a bit dizzy and his vision was shown as blurry for a second. Almost as if time half-stopped while everyone in the background was slow-mo fighting. Kylo would hear Vader's breathing, then shakes his head and time goes back to moving at a normal pace and he jumps right back into the battle.
- Jannah was confirmed to be Lando’s daughter.
- Rey not only healed Kylo's face scar but she killed Kylo when she healed Ben. Kylo would then cease to exist after Rey kills him.
- Leia would use her own memories to tap into Kylo Ren's memory in order to manifest Han Solo as a memory in order to talk to Kylo Ren. Leia would then die similarly to Luke dying in Star Wars: The Last Jedi having used the remainder of her energy.
- A scene where Finn used the Force was replaced with a CGI BB-8 fixing something that Finn would have fixed using the Force.
- The Kylo Ren death scene was supposed to be longer with more dialogue but was re-edited to Rey and Kylo kissing.
The bulk of the word around the "J.J. Cut" comes from egoshoppe's Reddit post, from an anonymous source that, according to the poster, has been able to satisfactorily verify that they worked on the film. On the other hand, Greg Grunberg, a close friend of Abrams and who played the role of Temmin "Snap" Wexley, expressed doubt that such a cut even exists. Freddie Prinze Jr., who voiced Kanan Jarrus, explained he was brought in to record lines just weeks before the film's release date and that he, along with the other voices, were given the same several lines to read from, which would be picked out for the final edit. Prinze was unaware of the identities of the other voices until he saw the film. VFX supervisor Roger Guyett also stated that Anakin as a Force ghost "was never in the cards".  This seems to run contradictory to the claim that the climax of The Rise of Skywalker would involve Force ghosts. /Film founder Peter Sciretta has also expressed doubt over this cut's existence.
With the revelation of the "J.J. Cut" of The Rise of Skywalker, many fans attempted to replicate the success of getting Zack Synder's Justice League cut released. While Abrams was in talks with Lucasfilm to possibly release the cut on Disney+, nothing seems to have come out of it. J.J. Abrams has seemed to move onto different projects and has stopped advocating for the release of his cut of The Rise of Skywalker. Most notably, working on projects with Warner Bros, a studio Disney sees a threat. With the claim by the Reddit user saying that the film would have to be leaked in order to be released and with Disney not really known for releasing director's cuts of films, it is unlikely that the J.J. Cut of The Rise of Skywalker will be released.
- The famous Reddit post that talks about the cuts made from the movie. Retrieved 02 Mar '21
- Article about Abrams reportedly being in talks with Lucasfilm over The Rise of Skywalker director's cut. Retrieved 02 Mar '21
- Article on Disney acquiring Lucasfilm. Retrieved 02 Mar '21
- Article on Colin Trevorrow being chosen to direct The Rise of Skywalker. Retrieved 02 Mar '21
- Article on The Rise of Skywalker entering pre-production. Retrieved 02 Mar '21
- Article on Colin Trevorrow's departure from The Rise of Skywalker. Retrieved 02 Mar '21
- Article going over the various changes and claims made by the reddit post. Retrieved 02 Mar '21
- Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker’s J.J. Abrams Cut Rumor Debunked Retrieved 13 Mar '21
- Freddie Prinze Jr Shares the Story Behind Kanan's Cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Retrieved 13 Mar '21
- Billie Lourd played Leia Organa and other visual effects secrets from 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Retrieved 13 Mar '21
- Peter Sciretta's tweet on the J. J. Cut Retrieved 24 Apr '21