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Daisy Ridley as Dark Rey in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

When it comes to the Star Wars franchise, there have been plenty of controversial moments. And most recently, fans have questioned whether or not trailers have given away too many crucial details about The Rise of Skywalker. We’ve learned seemingly shocking details about the upcoming film thanks to the snippets of footage we’ve seen. And Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has now offered her perspective on the choice to give fans these kinds of spoilers.

The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailers have revealed two huge plot points -- the return of Emperor Palpatine, and the appearance of “Dark Rey.” And that was a focal point of the conversation when io9 sat down with Kathleen Kennedy and The Rise of Skywalker’s producer Michelle Rejwan. When asked whether it was fair to assume that the marketing campaign around the film has been purposefully less secretive, Kathleen Kennedy answered:

I think that is a fair assessment. Because we’re bringing this to a conclusion, many of the characters that are playing a significant role in the story, the fans know. They don’t know how this story is going to unfold, but they know who they are. It’s not like Baby Yoda. [Laughs] We’re not revealing something significant like that. And I think that that is important to this story.

Her point, that we don’t understand the full context behind these revelations, is an important one. But the decision to reveal more details in the lead-up to The Rise of Skywalker’s release is still noteworthy, for a franchise that has notoriously locked down countless details over the years. Kathleen Kennedy spoke to how the decision was made -- and it had a lot to do with harnessing fan engagement:

We’re not trying to be coy and unnecessarily clever. And we had a lot of conversation about that. We certainly tease Palpatine, but we arrived at a decision pretty early on, right around Celebration, that we were like, 'Wait a minute. The fans are going to want that. We need to be somewhat more open than we would normally be because there isn’t something to hide here. There’s actually something to tantalize everybody with. To let speculation be a part of the conversation.' And that’s always been such a great thing about Star Wars, is that the fans get so engaged in that. And we felt that with this story that should be allowed to happen.

Whether or not the team behind the final entry in the Skywalker saga had fan backlash over The Last Jedi in mind when they began planning their marketing strategy isn’t clear. We’ll see whether the marketing gamble paid off when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20.

Keep up with everything heading to the big screen next year with our 2020 movie release date schedule.

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