Beware! Spoilers for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” below.
Two weeks after the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” comes the rise of the “JJ Cut.”
Recently, #ReleaseTheJJCut began trending on Twitter seemingly in response to a viral Reddit post claiming there is another version of the movie. This phantom film, dubbed the “J.J. Cut” after director J.J. Abrams, is the answer to every “Star Wars” fan who was dissatisfied with the theatrical cut. But it’s also a version Disney doesn’t want you to see.
In the viral post from the subreddit r/saltierthancrait — which describes itself as “a community for those who are critical of the recent new Star Wars revival from Disney” — a Reddit user claims to have corresponded with an anonymous source from “The Rise of Skywalker” production. This “source” — who offers no proof — tells the Reddit user a number of huge revelations: Abrams didn’t approve of the final cut of the movie, he was against the Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) kissing scene and he wanted to have Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) be together. Also, there was supposed to be a scene with Force ghosts surrounding Rey and another with Finn telling Rey that he’s Force-sensitive.
So why would Disney deliberately keep fans from seeing this magical, mythical version of “Rise of Skywalker”? To ruin Abrams, of course!
The “source” claims Warner Bros. wants Abrams to jumpstart its DC superhero movies — a potential threat to Disney-owned Marvel’s dominance in the realm. Therefore, to sour Warner Bros. on the director and “make JJ look bad to potential investors/shareholders,” Disney seemingly sabotaged its own movie like a gosh darn Sith supervillain.
This level of calculated corporate self-destruction is thrilling — and also “fan fiction,” according to a number of established entertainment journalists with insider knowledge.
Unlike the Snyder Cut, an alternate, likely unfinished edit of the 2017 film “Justice League” that fans and even actors from the movie have driven into internet-legend status, it doesn’t look like the J.J. Cut actually exists.
Reporters such as /Film editor-in-chief Peter Sciretta and Collider editor-in-chief Steven Weintraub poopooed the existence of the J.J. Cut, and our own interview with “Rise of Skywalker” editor Maryann Brandon seems to back them up.
One of the points that stands out from the viral Reddit post is Abrams’ supposed contempt for the Kylo and Rey kiss from the end of the film:
JJ was against the Reylo kiss (or Reylo in general). This was Disney’s attempt to please both sides of the fandom.
It’s apparently such a big point that the author of the post wrote a follow-up to back it up even more:
JJ didn’t like the kiss but had to include something along those lines. They settled for what to show, but that doesn’t mean he liked it. He absolutely did not.
However, despite how much the post claims Abrams didn’t like it, when we talked with Brandon days after the premiere, it kind of sounded like he did.
The editor went into detail about why the kiss was included, saying there were many versions of “should they/shouldn’t they” but that Abrams was supportive of the scene.
“I always said, ‘The movie will tell us whether they should kiss or not. We will know by the time we get to the end of our process, if it should happen.’” Brandon said. “And I felt it should, and [Abrams] agreed with me, and other people who saw the film agreed.”
Another point in the viral post stated Abrams wanted to have Finn and Poe together as a couple, which is something the fandom has been talking about since “The Force Awakens” in 2015. “JJ fought to make this happen,” the post read.
But again, when we asked Brandon about FinnPoe, the longtime Abrams collaborator said she’d never even heard about that possibility. To her, the characters were always just friends.
“I think, again, they’re best of friends,” she said. “There is a kind of brotherhood there where they understand each other, and they’ve got each other’s back.”
Finally, the Reddit post claimed the J.J. Cut has Finn specifically telling Rey he’s Force-sensitive and includes a scene showing Finn using the Force.
If that’s true, Brandon didn’t appear to be aware of it. When we asked the editor what Finn tried to tell Rey — which is a joke that goes throughout the movie — she said she thought it was supposed to be left up to interpretation and didn’t seem to know herself.
“It’s one of those things I think is cool in the movie that’s up to interpretation, and I think that’s exactly what was meant by it,” she said. “I think what you want it to be is what it is. One person said, ‘Oh, he’s gonna tell her he’s in love with her,’ and I thought maybe he was, or, ‘He’s gonna tell her he understands the Force now and he believes in it.’ Maybe it’s that. I’ve never asked J.J. or [writer Chris Terrio]. I just always took it as one of those humorous … because it’s a joke, that keeps going through the film.”
There’s little doubt that Disney and Lucasfilm had a say in the story and that there were alternate scenes and a longer version of the film before it was edited down to the theatrical cut. But that’s no revelation. That’s just how movies are made.
Perhaps instead of there being a secret version of the film hidden away, there’s a simpler answer to why some fans are unhappy. As Brandon told us, some “things that certain people love, other people hated. And that’s the phenomenon of ‘Star Wars.’”
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