As Lucasfilm had not developed a story beyond that of The Force Awakens, Johnson was allowed to develop his own story based on access to the script as well as footage screened for him by The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams. (Abrams's friend Greg Grunberg claimed that Abrams was so impressed by the script that he regretted not directing it himself.) According to Johnson, "I saw it as the job of this middle chapter to challenge all of those characters—let's see what happens if we knock the stool out from under them." .... "I started by writing the names of each of the characters, and thinking, 'What's the hardest thing they could be faced with?'" While writing, Johnson regularly met with the Lucasfilm Story Group and members of the cast to share ideas and drafts of the script. John Boyega later told Vogue that the script was "darker" than the one for The Force Awakens. To prepare for Episode VIII, Johnson and crew screened select classic films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gunga Din, Letter Never Sent, Sahara, Three Outlaw Samurai, To Catch a Thief and Twelve O'Clock High.
Preliminary filming took place in September 2015 on Skellig Michael, an island off the coast of mainland Ireland. The island stands in for the planet Ahch-To, which first appeared at the end of The Force Awakens, but is featured prominently in The Last Jedi; Production design was inspired by the real-world elements of Skellig Michael. This sequence was filmed with IMAX cameras. Before leaving, the crew donated €10,000 to the ferry service that had transported them to-and-from the island.
Production officially began in England in February 2016, under the working title of "Space Bear." It utilized 14 stages at Pinewood Studios and a total of 125 sets, with many of the crew from Episode VII returning. From March 9-16, production took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, followed by a return to Ireland for twelve weeks in County Cork. Several members of the production likened the experience of making the film to working on an independent production. Johnson took a lot of the behind the scenes photographs himself, and also shot a brief bit of content for Episode IX.Carrie Fisher worked with Johnson on some of the dialogue, in sessions that he described as "stream-of-consciousness ad-lib." Per a suggestion from Fisher, several of the film's characters wear jewelry of some type. Hamill was surprised by the changes in his character, and had to forumulate a personal backstory for the character so as to play the character effectively. In an interview with Polygon, Hamill described the security measures on set: "You get your pages in the morning, and they take them from you as you walk so they can shred them before it somehow leaks. You have security lines you have to walk through, both to and from set. And, not to mention, you have to wear these big monk hoods to protect your costume from drones." By June 2016, filming was "in the home stretch." Principal photography wrapped on July 22, 2016.
Johnson began editing on August 15, 2016. His first cut ran over three hours, and included full sequences that were cut from the final film. Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27, 2016. Though she had completed filming, she had yet to record ADR. This required significant work by the film's sound editors. On September 21, Johnson revealed that post-production was complete.
At a Tanglewood concert in August 2016, John Williams confirmed he was scheduled to start scoring Episode VIII "in the next few weeks." Williams began recording the score in December 2016, which was expected to be completed by March or April 2017. In May 2017, however, members of the film's cast attended a recording session for the score. The film's soundtrack is slated for release in physical form on December 15, 2017, the same date as the film's theatrical premiere.
Disney chairman Bob Iger originally announced the release date for Episode VIII of May 26, 2017, forty years and one day after the release of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, though the release date was later pushed back to December 15, 2017. Rian Johnson first publically discussed the film in a panel at Celebration Europe. The film's title, The Last Jedi, was announced on January 23, 2017. The title announcement was accompanied with a release of a logo for the film featuring the Star Wars logo in red rather than its traditional logo. This coloring change, previously seen with Return of the Jedi and with "Brothers" and "Revenge," installments of Star Wars: The Clone Wars focused on Darth Maul, led some to speculate that the film's creators may be hinting at dark events within the film. The title's announcement also launched a frenzy of online speculation in regard to the identity of the "last Jedi," with some noting that the term "Jedi" can be used plurally. (Foreign translations also had the title as plural.) However, Rian Johnson later said that it refers specifically to Luke Skywalker.
The theatrical trailer and poster debuted on October 9, 2017 during Monday Night Football, after which tickets went on sale. Johnson advised spoiler-weary fans to avoid the trailer. On October 24, USA Today published an exclusive behind-the-scenes video. A TV spot known as "Awake" debuted during the November 1 broadcast of the World Series. Behind-the-scenes content is being shown before theatrical screenings of other Disney movies. The official Star WarsTumblr is holding a contest in which fan art will be showcased at the film's world premiere, which will be held on December 9, 2017.
The film's product line debuted on September 1, 2017, known as Force Friday II;Target launched its Force Friday campaign early with a video centered around Rey and female fans.Like withThe Force Awakens, the months leading up to the debut of The Last Jedi saw the release of several novels, short stories, comics, reference books, and activity books known collectively as Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The media, written and created by several different authors, cover various topics related to The Last Jedi as well as other aspects of the Star Wars universe. Toy merchandise includes many plush toys based around the porg creatures introduced in the film, as well as various action figures, including action figures of porgs.
The film topped polls from both Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes as the most anticipated film of 2017. It generated the highest level of film discussion on social media for late 2017, and analysts expected a $200 million opening. As of December 12, 2017, the film had a 93% Fresh rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, with 143/153 Fresh reviews and average rating of 8.3/10. The site's consensus for the film states that "Star Wars: The Last Jedi honors the saga's rich legacy while adding some surprising twists -- and delivering all the emotion-rich action fans could hope for." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger praised that "Rian Johnson clearly remembers something that Lucas' most fervent followers sometimes forget: These are movies for the young, or at least the young at heart.", while Peter Howell of the Toronto Star praised Johnson's ability to "find the humanity within technology," similar to his well-known film Looper.Star Wars creator George Lucas called the film "beautifully made."
Teaser poster, unveiled at Star Wars Celebration Orlando
Final theatrical poster
Rey teaser poster, posted by Daisy Ridley on social media
Finn teaser poster, posted by John Boyega on social media
General Leia Organa teaser poster, posted on official Star Wars social media
Luke Skywalker teaser poster, posted by Mark Hamill on social media
Poe Dameron teaser poster, posted by Oscar Isaac on social media
Kylo Ren teaser poster, posted on official Star Wars social media