John Williams and John Boyega have provided the best evidence The Rise of Skywalker was heavily altered during and after production, but the cast and crew have given additional indications.
SWSC INVESTIGATES THE JJ CUT:
Cast and Crew Reactions
John was hardly alone in showing disappointment in The Rise of Skywalker after the cast screening. The cast’s reactions varied from puzzlement to cringing when they were asked to show their reactions non-verbally:
“We all sort of sat around a bit stunned. And then I was trying to scurry off into the car to cry and [producer] Michelle Rejwan and [screenwriter] Chris Terrio were like, ‘No, go on.’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to cry in front of you! I just want to get in the car.’”– Daisy Ridley (YouTube)
The cast’s reaction to the final film stands in stark contrast to their enthusiasm during production. If this wasn’t the film they were expecting, then what was? Note Keri’s crying imitation while looking at JJ (who laughs). In late June of 2019 she was interviewed by the Associated Press:
“When I read his script that he wrote I cried,” she told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “I mean who knows what it will turn out to be and I hope it remains true to what he originally wanted.”
Why was Keri concerned it would turn out to be something other than what JJ wanted?
Puzzling Cast and Crew Statements
In addition to the reactions, there have been a number of curious cast statements:
Reverse Vader would be, as Adam said in the video, going from uncertain of his path to fully committed. That is not at all what happened in TROS as Kylo turns away from the dark side at the end of the second act. Adam also states that we see Kylo with the Knights of Ren at the very start of the movie and this is him at his most comfortable. The movie, of course, starts with Kylo finding Palpatine and he actually interacts very little with the KoR. What, then, is Adam referring to?
Dominic Monaghan when he was asked about the possibility of a JJ cut:
“Oh, man, there was so much stuff!”
Although he doesn’t elaborate on what was cut, Dominic’s statement does jive with how much John Williams said he recorded.
Kelly Marie Tran’s response when asked to describe the movie in three words:
Really, really long.
Although Kelly does indicate she hasn’t seen the final film, her words do suggest a significantly longer than normal script. Instead, The Rise of Skywalker only wound up being five minutes longer than The Force Awakens.
In September of 2019, Hasbro’s Senior Director of Global Marketing, Mike Ballog had this to say:
We have clear conversations about what can come out when, and what needs to stay under wraps. We work around things with that in mind. At least from a Hasbro stand point, [the product on display is] maybe 30-35% of our full line.
Sounds great, right? Except the movie came out and the other 65%-70% never appeared. What happened to it? Was it based on a movie that never saw the light of day?
Based purely on John Williams and John Boyega’s statements and reactions, we can say, with confidence, the film was heavily altered during post-production. The amount John Williams states he recorded is particularly suggestive of significant changes to the film after he began recording in June. As JJ Abrams would have had to have shown Williams a somewhat refined cut of the film for the latter to even begin composing, at the very least a very different early cut exists. Unfortunately, knowing there were significant changes doesn’t tell us how much and in what ways the final film deviates from the shooting script. While it’s apparent a considerable portion of Finn’s storyline was cut, how much the other characters were affected is less clear and relies on far more circumstantial evidence (Adam’s description of Kylo’s arc is tantalizing though).
Unfortunately, even if a cut with a very different storyline does exist, there is little reason to expect it to ever be released, much less replace the current film in Canon. However, in the age of the Snyder Cut, there is always reason to think a different version of the film being released may be possible. Dedicated DC fans spent years speculating and arguing the existence of a cut made by Zack Snyder before he had to leave the project. For a long time, Warner Brothers denied such a thing even existed, but fans continued to show strong interest and the studio finally announced Snyder was going to finish and release his version of the film. With Disney facing a situation it could scarcely have imagined when The Rise of Skywallker came out, it’s not unthinkable they might borrow a page from WB and release another version of the film, especially if the fans show interest in an alternate version. We believe that J.J. Abrams deserves to be given the same opportunity as Zack Synder and have his vision for Episode IX released.