Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker screenwriter Chris Terrio, who co-wrote Episode IX with director J.J. Abrams, says there were "a few initial discussions" about splitting the finale of the Skywalker Saga into two parts, but the decision was ultimately made to leave the episodic saga at nine movies per the wishes of creator George Lucas. The split would have joined other franchise two-part finales, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2, and Disney's own Avengers: Infinity War and one-year-later sequel Avengers: Endgame.
"I wish we could have done that," Terrio told Awards Daily when asked if there was talk of expanding the sequel trilogy into four movies because of the volume of exposition and characters included in Skywalker. "There is a lot of plot in the movie, and as a writer, you always want scenes to let the plot breathe more. If there were a way of doing it, splitting it would have been my dream."
Terrio added he and Abrams "could have written these characters forever," admitting there was "so much backstory that had to be left by the wayside."
"I wish that we could have that, but George always said it was nine movies. That was the natural size of the saga, and so, other than a few initial discussions, we never really advanced that conversation," he said. "Of course, as a writer, it breaks your heart to leave stuff on the table that you think would have given the story more depth and nuance and to give the characters more to do. Speaking for myself and not on the part of the studio, I do wish there could have been a 'Part 1' and a 'Part 2.'"
Terrio and Abrams, who intended Skywalker to be not just the conclusion to Disney-Lucasfilm's sequel trilogy but the nine-movie saga as a whole, had a delicate balancing act: Terrio says the filmmakers dealt with two-dozen prominent characters on Skywalker.
"I think there are about 24 characters in The Rise of Skywalker. About 16 of those have fairly significant or traceable character arcs," he said. "That's not an easy task, obviously. You have to look to films like Robert Altman films for inspiration as to how you can keep track of them all. There will never be another film like this where you're balancing so many characters and plot points that go back 42 years."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters.