Is there a J.J. Abrams cut of Rise of Skywalker?

Star Wars, The Rise of Skywalker, J.J. Abrams

Ever since Disney and LucasFilm unleashed STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, the J.J. Abrams-directed final chapter of the Skywalker Saga has come under fire by fans and critics alike for being what most are calling a rushed and muddled finale. And while everyone knows that hell hath no fury like scorned Star Wars fans, individuals who suspect foul play in the making of the film have started asking some very pointed questions about its production, as well as if there exists an alternate version of the movie. That’s right, folks, the new year already has its own #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, only this time the ire is now aimed at Star Wars, and now bears the hashtag #ReleaseTheJJCut.

As the story goes, the author of a Reddit post that was created late Monday evening claims to have spoken with a source that worked closely on the production of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, who says that many who’d contributed the film were surprised and upset with the final product. Presented in a comprehensive bullet point format, the post explores everything from Abrams struggling to get approval for scenes that he’d felt were pivotal to the plot to the director potentially being eyed for upcoming DC superhero projects – a move that Disney views as a possible threat to their iron grip on the superhero cinema market.

To be absolutely clear, the following information should be taken with a Death Star-sized grain of salt, as nothing that you’ll find listed below has been confirmed by any studio associated with the making of The Rise of Skywalker. It’s also worth noting that the author of the post has changed some of the wording presented by their source, so as to keep their identity a secret. Finally, the source has also confessed that they have an agenda by releasing this information, as they feel that their work was misrepresented upon the approved cut of TROS making its way to theaters.

Straight up, the original post is rather novelesque, so I’ve taken the liberty of selecting some of its most potent talking points below:

– The leakers for TROS had an agenda and are tied to Disney directly. My source confessed that they have an agenda as well in that they struggle with ignoring what’s been happening to someone who they think doesn’t deserve it.

– Disney was one of the studios who were in that Bad Robot bidding war last year. Disney never had much interest in BR as a company but they did in JJ because they saw WB (who JJ went with in the end) as a major threat.

– WB wants Abrams for some DC projects. My source said that this generation’s Star Wars is the MCU, and Marvel’s biggest threat is a well operational DC. They want to keep DC in the limbo that they’re in right now. Abrams jumpstarting that franchise with something like a successful, audience-pleasing Superman movie makes them nervous. Their goal is to make JJ look bad to potential investors/shareholders.

– My source mentioned this shortly after the premiere: “The TROS we saw last night was not the TROS we thought we worked on”.

– JJ was devastated and blindsided by this. He’s been feeling down over the last 6 months because of some of the ridiculous demands Disney had that changed his movie’s story. While the scenes were shot, a lot of the changes were made in post-production and the audio was rerecorded and altered. My source said they’ve never seen anything like this happen before. He’s the director and he wasn’t in the know about what they were doing behind his back.

– Rian was never meant to do IX despite some rumors that he was.

– JJs original agreement when he signed on was indicating he would have way more creative control than he did on TFA. It became evident this wasn’t the case only a couple of weeks into shooting when the trouble with meddling started.

– JJ wanted to do some scenes he thought were important but Disney shut it down citing budgetary reasons.

– May 2019: JJ argued that those scenes were crucial. He had to let go of one of the scenes. The other scene he insisted on was approved at first. He did reshoots and additional photography in July. The new scene was shot at BR in October.

– The “ending that will blow your mind” was a part of this. Older actors were included like Hayden, Ewan and Samuel and anyone who wasn’t animated. The force ghosts weren’t meant to be voices because they shot that footage on camera. The actors were in costumes. Rey was supposed to be surrounded by the force ghosts to serve as sort of a barrier between her and the Sith surrounding them.

– Disney demanded they shoot some scenes that would have things in it for merchandise. “They fly now” is one of them. It’s also JJ’s least favorite scene. At a November screening of a 2:37 cut, he cringed, groaned and laughed when the scene was on.

– JJ’s original early November cut was 3 hours 2 minutes long.

– My source thinks but can’t 100% confirm that this is because of China. It’s an office talk of sorts. Some VFX people claimed they got a list of approved shades of blue they could use on the Luke force ghosts. Cutting this out was when the bad blood turned into a nightmare for JJ because the movie he was making was suddenly unrecognizable to him in almost every way.

– The cut JJ eventually and hesitantly agreed to in early December was 2:37 minutes long. It wasn’t the cut we saw which he wouldn’t have approved of (and which is 2:22 long). Apart from the force ghosts, there were other crucial and emotional scenes missing. The cut they released looked “chopped and taped back together with weak scotch tape” (JJ’s words).

– The movie opened with Rey’s training. Her first scene with Rose was shortly after Rey damaged BB-8 during the training. Rose made a silly joke about how Poe is going to kill her for damaging BB-8. There was a moment where Rey took a minute to process what just happened when she saw that vision during training. She looked distressed and worried. The next scene was noise as the Falcon was landing and Rey runs over there. Those two women who kissed at the end were visible in this shot and they were holding hands. One of them ran towards the Falcon as it landed.

– Kylo on Mustafar scene was 2 mins longer. There was a moment where Kylo seemed 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 hears 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 (the scene from the trailer where he knocks that guy down which did end up in the movie later).

– Rey not only healed Kylo’s face scar but she killed Kylo when she healed Ben. Kylo ceased to exist when Rey healed him. My source mentioned that some people assume it was Han Solo who healed him but that isn’t true and that wasn’t Han Solo. That was Leia using her own memories as well as Ben’s to create a physical manifestation of his own thoughts to nudge him towards what he needed to do. That was her own way of communicating that with him. And it wasn’t possible without her dying in the process. She made the ultimate sacrifice for her son and this flew over people’s heads with the Disney cut.

– The late November cut (the last cut JJ approved of) had scenes with Rose and Rey still. JJ wanted to give her a more meaningful arc. Disney felt that that was too risky too. My source mentioned that Chris Terrio said that it was because of the Leia scenes but this is only partially true because she had four other scenes including two with Rey/Daisy that Leia was not in.

– Finn wanting to tell Rey something was always meant to be force sensitivity. In the 3 hour cut, it’s explicitly stated. There was a moment when Jannah and he were running on top of that star destroyer and Finn needed to unlock or move something and he force-moved it and acted surprised when it happened. This was replaced with a CGI’d BB-8 fixing whatever he needed to fix on there.

– JJ was not happy with where TLJ took the story. The final result is a mix of that story and the story told by Disney and whoever they tried to impress (“certainly not the fans”). JJ is gutted over the final result. Star Wars means a lot to him. He had to sacrifice large chunks of the story in TFA but he was promised more creative control on TROS and instead the leash they had him on was only tightened as time went by. A source said that this is the one franchise and the one piece of his work that he didn’t want to mess up and instead it turned into his worst nightmare. When he found out that he was blindsided with the cut they presented, he said “what the fuck??” when Kylo was fighting the Knights of Ren at the end and the Williams music that was used for it was not what he wanted at all. He seemed to think it was out of place.

– The source asked about FinnPoe after seeing Oscar Isaac‘s comment about how Disney didn’t want it to be a thing. This is true. JJ fought to make this happen. This is why Oscar is blaming Disney. It’s not just a random throwaway comment. He knows for a fact that it was Disney because these discussions happened. The main cast is insanely close with JJ and are just as pissed, though seemingly more outspoken about it than JJ. During TFA, Disney was hesitant to hire John Boyega because a woman was front and center so they deemed that risky enough so bringing in a male lead who’s black made them nervous. JJ fought to make that happen for about nine months before getting approval. The same issue came up when JJ fought to have Finn&Poe in TROS but he lost that battle as he lost many creative battles for this film. Many people, JJ included, came to the realization during this production that the story really is told by shareholders/investors instead of the creatives or anyone at Disney specifically. He tried to make a lot of things happen and was shut down because of this. They had him on a leash and many blame TLJ for the stricter creative approach.

– JJ’s cut still exists and “will always exist”. We most likely will never see it unless “someone accidentally leaks it.”

To read the entire post, which delves into even more unseen elements of Abrams’ intended cut of the film, click here.

To reiterate, each of the above bullet points should be consumed with caution. And until we hear a definitive word from either Abrams or Disney about a multitude of decisions that were made behind the scenes, it’s difficult to say that any of the these claims should be considered as absolute truths. While I’ve no doubt that those in charge of the film were juggling much during The Rise of Skywalker‘s production, I was not there, so I cannot comment on what did and did not happen throughout the making of the movie. That being said, I feel as if the torch has officially been lit for a #ReleaseTheJJCut call to action, and I’m positive that this won’t be the last of what we hear about The Rise of Skywalker that could have been.

What do you all make of this post? Do you feel as if there is any truth to what’s been presented as grievances against the making of the film? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, J.J. Abrams, LucasFilm

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