Last week was tragically marked by the sudden passing of actress/writer/activist Carrie Fisher on December 27 (as well as her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, just a day later) after she suffered a heart attack four days earlier. At the time, Fisher was promoting her memoir The Princess Diarist, but she was still also involved in the Star Wars franchise, having completed her work on Episode VIII several months earlier. However, because of Fisher's death, Walt Disney Studios could collect approximately $50 million from insurance.
According to Insurance Insider, Disney took out a "contract protection cover" as insurance in case Carrie Fisher was unable to fulfill her obligations to appear in the new Star Wars movies. Since Fisher will now not be participating in Star Wars: Episode IX, which is due for release in 2019, this claim could reportedly trigger and be spread across 20 carriers "on the binder." The policy was written by Exceptional Risk Advisors in New Jersey, but Lloyd's of London will be handling matters from here. Assuming Disney takes the $50 million payout, it would be the "biggest ever single personal accident insurance claim." However, to be clear, such a payout hasn't occurred yet, and neither Disney, Carrie Fisher's spokesperson nor any of the parties involved have officially commented on the matter.
Carrie Fisher was one of the five primary players from the original Star Wars trilogy to be brought back for the sequel trilogy that kicked off in December 2015. While Episode VIII is covered thanks to principal photography having already finished, Disney has yet to reveal how Fisher's absence will affect Episode IX. Will Leia Organa be written out, leaving it to another character to address her fate? Will the production crew try to pull off the same kind of CGI wizardry they did with Wilhuff Tarkin in Rogue One? We'll have to wait and see.
Warning: spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are ahead!
Since Han Solo's demise in The Force Awakens means that Harrison Ford's time with the franchise has seemingly concluded, that leaves Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) as the only main original actors left to continue appearing, and we don't even know for sure yet if all of them will be back for Episode IX. As for Leia Organa, she can actually be seen in theaters right now, as the young princess from Alderaan appears in the final minute of Rogue One, with 1970s Carries Fisher's likeness laid over actress Ingvild Deila's face.
You can see Carrie Fisher in the Star Wars universe one last time when Episode VIII hits theaters on December 15, 2017, while Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, the documentary about the mother/daughter duo, will premiere on HBO this Saturday, January 7.