After a teaser for Star Wars: Episode IX failed to arrive before Christmas, as rumored, some fans pinned their hopes on Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII for a first glimpse of the trilogy’s conclusion, only to be disappointed again. However, it’s not exactly clear why the franchise faithful expected to see footage from J.J. Abrams’ sequel 11 months to a year before the film’s premiere, despite little precedent.
While there may be an element of entitlement at work, the expectation appears to be grounded in the marketing campaign for 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which debuted an 88-second teaser in late November 2014. Despite its brevity, however, the teaser was more than a title card and a bit of voiceover: It instead gave audiences a glimpse of new characters and worlds. If anything, it was unprecedented, which makes sense, seeing as how, for many of us, finally getting an Episode VII felt like a pipe dream.
Abrams’ The Force Awakens destroyed box office records on its way to grossing $2.07 billion worldwide. Perhaps that led fans to presume the same sort of yearlong Star Wars marketing cycle would be repeated. However, the next movie, 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, didn’t employ the same marketing long game, instead debuting the teaser in April at Star Wars Celebration, some eight months before the theatrical premiere. The full-length trailer for The Force Awakens dropped around the same time the previous year. Similarly, the teaser for Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrived in April 2017, during — you guessed it! — Star Wars Celebration, with the full-length trailer rolling out in October.
It’s easy to detect a pattern here. Now, to be fair, 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t follow that blueprint as it premiered in May rather than in December, breaking from the tradition of the revitalized franchise. Disney teased its first trailer with a 45-second promo that aired in February 2018, during Super Bowl LII, and then premiered the full footage the next day, on ABC’s Good Morning America.
But old habits die hard, and fans are again wondering when the first peek at the trilogy-ending Star Wars: Episode IX will be released. We suggest they settle into the April-December rhythm, and sit tight: Star Wars Celebration Chicago is just 70 days away.
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: Episode IX stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Matt Smith, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film is scheduled to open on Dec. 20.