J.J. Abrams never intended to guide “Star Wars” fans in the wrong direction.
The writer-director says — spoiler alert! — that while trailers for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” feature footage and dialogue that didn’t ultimately end up in the final cut of the movie, the discrepancies weren’t meant to throw anyone off.
“It’s a fairly common occurrence when you’re working on a movie, and it’s a year or six months out,” said Abrams. “We were still editing, refining and adjusting the film. That evolution process is something that’s hard to predict.”
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Abrams detailed his decisions (along with editors Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon) on what footage landed in “The Force Awakens” and what was sent down the garbage chute.
[The rest of this article contains spoilers from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.]
“Star Wars” fans flipped their Stormtrooper helmets when a pair of beams flared out from the side of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber in the first teaser trailer. However, “The Force Awakens” doesn’t actually feature the moment when the masked baddie ignites his flickering lightsaber hilt.
“There might be a look or scene in a trailer that identifies as being powerful in that short form, but sometimes that doesn’t jibe with what’s happening in the long form,” said Abrams. “There were a couple of shots that ended up not being used in the film, simply because we were doing our best to make the movie be the best version of itself, which sometimes means losing a moment here or there.”
Other trailer portions cut from the film include Rey (Daisy Ridley) entering a derelict Star Destroyer on her home planet and an ominous exchange between the spunky scavenger and itty-bitty pirate Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o).
In the second trailer, Maz Kanata is seen passing a lightsaber to another woman. But it’s Finn (John Boyega) who takes it from her yellow hand in the movie. Abrams acknowledged that after Maz Kanata’s castle is leveled by the First Order, the big-eyed buccaneer originally traveled to the Resistance’s base to hand off Luke Skywalker’s signature weapon to his sister, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).
“It ended up being an unnecessary hot potato,” said Abrams. “It felt like the movie was stronger if we skipped over that moment. It definitely wasn’t meant to be diversionary. It was a scene in the movie I later realized I had put the entire crew through shooting, only to cut it.”
“Star Wars” fans shouldn’t expect an extended edition of “The Force Awakens” with such moments folded back into the narrative. Unlike his predecessor, Abrams isn’t interested in rereleases.
“I’m not a huge fan of directors’ cuts and modifications to a movie,” he said. “I feel the movie that comes out is the movie that should be the intended final product.”
Mark Hamill delivered a new rendition on dialogue uttered by Luke Skywalker in 1983’s “Return Of The Jedi” in the second trailer, although the chilling monologue isn’t included in “The Force Awakens.”
In fact, Skywalker doesn’t spew a single word when on screen at the end of the movie. Abrams noted that the filmmakers never intended for the last Jedi to open his trap.
“There were all sorts of different ideas pitched over the past three years,” said Abrams. “When it became clear what this story was and where ‘Episode VIII” and ‘Episode IX” would go, the end of this movie was very much intended to be a cliffhanger. Obviously, the Luke storyline will continue in a very strong way, but it wasn’t material for this movie.”