A long time ago, George Lucas always said that the Star Wars saga surrounding the Skywalkers was always going to be 9 episodes. With the take over by Disney, this could have been extended, but it has been confirmed by Lucasfilm earlier this week that Episode IX will be the final installment in the Skywalker saga.

Star Wars: Episode IX won’t just be a milestone chapter of the franchise because it brings the Sequel Trilogy to a close, it will also serve as the final chapter of the “Skywalker Saga,” which has been the driving force (pun) of the series since it began.

The opening line of the new official cast and production announcement for Star Wars 9 comes with the following opening:

“Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.”

This shouldn’t come as any surprise to hardcore Star Wars fans: we’ve known for some time that the Skywalker Saga would be a nine-film arc, which is exactly as George Lucas first intended it, when he created the Original Trilogy. The franchise has already started laying groundwork for a lifespan after the Skywalkers; Star Wars: The Last Jedi had the unenviable job of opening the doors to wider possibilities for Jedi and Force user heroes, while annihilating fan theories that Rey (Daisy Ridley) would carry on the Skywalker legacy. That film’s director, Rian Johnson, has already been tapped for a new trilogy of Star Wars films that are totally original works, while Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are planning their own spinoff trilogy, which some fans expect could be set in the Knights of the Old Republic era. While those projects are still only in development, it’s clear that Disney and Lucasfilm are already ready to move the franchise forward.

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