Numerous sources including online ticketing sites like AMC and Fandango have confirmed that The Rise of Skywalker clocks in at 2 hours and 35 minutes. It is in fact the longest runtime in the franchise’s history. Not entirely a surprise considering it’s the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. One mystery is solved, yet another takes its place.
Is there enough time for Episode IX to deliver a satisfying conclusion to this trilogy in just over two and a half hours?
Perhaps. However, there will be some loose ends that need to be tied up somewhere down the line according to J.J. Abrams. When speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he stated, “While there were many things that were planned for and discussed…that doesn’t mean there isn’t discovery, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that come up that make you realize, ‘Oh, here’s an opportunity.’” Abrams does go on to say, “But we also were very much aware this is the end of the trilogy and it needs to satisfy. We went into this thing knowing it has to be an ending. We’re not screwing around.”
Episode IX has a number of storylines that must be explored based on the previous two episodes in the trilogy. Most notably the ones focusing on Rey and her connection to the Force, Snoke and the true nature of his role, and the motivation for Kylo Ren to keep seeking out the darkness. These storylines will be critical to resolve as they serve as the foundation for the new trilogy.
But from what we’ve learned so far based on the snippets of footage from the first teaser, and the content released at D23 Expo, there are even more factors coming into play in this latest installment. Quite a few new characters are being introduced into the franchise like Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell) and Jannah (Naomi Ackie) as well as some returning characters like Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and of course, Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
Along with new characters, it looks like we will be exploring new factions in Episode IX. The Knights of Ren have been an enigma since their short debut with only a mention and small glimpse in The Force Awakens, so there’s quite a bit of explaining to do when it comes to their sudden involvement. In addition to the Knights of Ren, a new red-armored class of soldiers known as Sith Troopers have been teased in the promotional material as well as a fleet of imperial star destroyers. No word as to where their allegiance will lie, however, they will certainly need ample screen time to fold into the events of the film properly.
So is two and a half hours really enough time to conclude this epic journey that started over 40 years ago? I do believe the time is sufficient enough, if utilized properly. Extensive runtimes don’t necessarily mean a better film. After all, many would argue one of the shorter films in the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back (2 hours and 4 minutes) is best to date. Certain moments in The Rise of Skywalker may be brief, but if those moments resonate with audience and are impactful, the movie will be able to satisfy.
Abrams has a daunting task with helming IX, but he seems confident in what he has been able to achieve so far within the franchise. We may not get all the answers we want, but there’s something mystical about not knowing everything, especially in regards to Star Wars. Who knows the questions and answers we seek could become the foundation for another Disney Plus series.