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There's A Major Update About The Rise Of Skywalker Runtime

Brace yourselves Star Wars fans — we'll be getting a little less Jedi action in The Rise of Skywalker than initially believed. 

Director J.J. Abrams probably hasn't cut any lightsaber dueling or suspenseful space chases from the final chapter of the Skywalker saga, but he has indeed shortened the runtime for The Rise of Skywalker. While it was initially reported back in October that the film's runtime was set at 2 hours and 35 minutes (155 minutes), that cut of the film was apparently far from set in stone. Abrams himself confirmed as much during his recent appearance on Good Morning America, telling viewers that he'd only just locked in the final cut days prior. Later, while speaking in an interview with EWLive on SiriusXM 109, Abrams revealed that The Rise of Skywalker's runtime now clocks in at 2 hours and 21 minutes (141 minutes).

Though Abrams followed his assertion about that runtime with a quick "I believe," it seems safe to say that any further alterations will be minuscule at best.

It's hardly surprising that filmmaker would be tweaking their movie until last possible moment before finalizing the theatrical version for mass consumption. These sort of narrative tune-ups are commonplace in the movie-making industry, but when it comes to any Star Wars or Star Wars-adjacent projects, fans make it their mission to keep a close eye on how things are progressing. If you tell those folks that they're getting a full 14 minutes less of said project than first believed, well, conversations are obviously going to be had.  

As far as what Abrams may have cut in the latest round of edits, we obviously haven't a single clue. What we do know that 14 minutes is a considerable amount of time to trim from a movie, and could even allow a filmmaker to remove an entire subplot if they deemed it necessary. That's probably not the case with The Rise of Skywalker, as it would be pretty impossible to imagine Abrams incorporating any major narrative threads (save for that shocking Emperor Palpatine surprise) only to remove it just weeks before its December 20 release.

Given that there was so much narrative ground for Abrams to cover and resolve in The Rise of Skywalker, the initial 155-minute runtime made a lot of sense, as it made the saga-closing film the longest Star Wars movie ever. Fans will now have to settle for the second-longest Star Wars movie ever released, and hope that — even in its slightly protracted state — Abrams' film brings a worthy end to the Skywalker saga.

That being said, since the recently deleted Rise of Skywalker footage made it so far into the edit, we'd have to assume it had some intrinsic value to some of the film's overarching narratives. As such, we can't help but wonder if Abrams didn't get a little cut-crazy in the editing room, or if this was a simple case of a filmmaker trimming the last of the proverbial "fat" from their flick and getting it in fighting shape for its theatrical run.

Can J.J. Abrams stick the landing with The Rise of Skywalker

Odds are we'll never actually know the answer, but the wait is almost over to find out if Abrams can stick the landing on the saga-closing Star Wars trilogy he kicked off with 2015's The Force Awakens.

Not that any Star Wars fan needs reminding, but even as that film was generally well-received by audiences and critics, most were quick to note that The Force Awakens erred a little too close to the style and story of George Lucas' O.G. trilogy from the '70s and '80s. Even Lucas himself famously chimed in on The Force Awaken's lack of originality when it was released, reportedly telling Bob Iger (Disney's big boss) and Kathleen Kennedy (ward of all things Lucasfilm and Star Wars) that "there's nothing new" in terms of the film's technical acumen or narrative ambition.

Whether he'd freely admit it or not, we're pretty sure The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson took those notes to heart when he set out to bring the middle film in the planned trilogy to audiences. (Whatever you think of The Last Jedi, you have to admit that the film took more wildly original, forward-thinking chances than any Star Wars film since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back.) While many fans believe Johnson's film to be the shot in the arm the franchise actually needed (some even rank it among the series' best offerings), The Last Jedi also proved to be the most divisive film set amongst the war-torn vistas of the galaxy far, far away — a fact that's sadly also made it the poster-child for toxic fandom run amok.   

As such, Abrams stepped right into the hottest pressure cooker in Hollywood when he signed on guide The Rise of Skywalker to screens amid The Last Jedi strife — not to mention the very public break between Disney and the film's original director Colin Trevorrow. While Trevorrow and writing partner Derek Connolly retain a "story by" credit on the film, Abrams and Chris Terrio no doubt put a tidal wave of new ideas to work in their rewrite of The Rise of Skywalker — a rewrite that also had Johnson's out-of-the-box threads to incorporate.

One of Abrams' bigger ideas for The Rise of Skywalker – the return of the original Star Wars trilogy's bad boy Sith lord Emperor Palpatine – has already left fans scratching their heads, wondering if the upcoming film is simply going to be a Return of the Jedi redux. However, it seems that Abrams is more than confident he's found the right mix of old and new to deliver a satisfying ending to the Skywalker saga – no matter how long the film's runtime is. Here's hoping the Force is strong with Abrams and the rest of The Rise of Skywalker team.