KUALA LUMPUR: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...” — the signature opening crawl to each Star Wars movie — will always be anticipated by the trilogy’s fans at the beginning of each episode.
Today, it will be seen for the final time as the cult classic’s final episode, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, begins its screen run in Malaysian cinemas.
The Malaysian opening of the final film in the sequel trilogy is two days earlier than its United States premiere.
Tickets for the film have been snapped up by fans, especially in the Klang Valley, ahead of its opening day.
The Rise of Skywalker concludes the Star Wars saga that began 42 years ago in 1977.
The trilogy has garnered generations of loyal fans from around the world for the past four decades.
J.J. Abrams, who directed the film, has remained secretive about what fans should expect in the final episode.
Apart from subtle hints of surprises, the only known fact is the return of Princess Leia, originally played by the late Carrie Fisher.
Unused footage of Fisher, who died unexpectedly at the age of 60 in 2016, was used to recreate the character.
Star Wars Malaysia fan club president Sanjiv Indran said the return of Princess Leia was a heartwarming gesture to her fans, knowing that enough footage existed to make her character an integral part of the last episode.
“Due to Princess Leia’s roles in past episodes, Fisher became one of the most recognisable female heroes and leading ladies on-screen in our time.
“It is only fitting that the Star Wars franchise honours her and keeps her memory alive for future generations. It will be a glorious end.
“As for how the footage is used, I believe Abrams did justice to her character.”
Another fan, Zachariah Aidin Druckman, said he had high expectations for the movie.
“When the new movie trilogy came out, I actually liked it.
“We have a new plot twist, new characters, and, of course, when they killed off Han Solo, I was devastated. So I am looking forward to the ending.”
He said the promotion of Star Wars instalments was strategised in such a way that each episode would be promoted and treated as if it was the last one, with only few hints of a possible future movie.
“Star Wars will always be Star Wars. If there are future instalments, they will be like origin stories, which probably fit between the storylines.”
Sanjiv said since Disney had bought the Star Wars franchise from Lucasfilm for US$4.05 billion in 2012, fans had been hoping that the latest movie would not be last.
“The franchise is too valuable and the fans are too emotionally invested for Disney to stop here.”
The Star Wars franchise, created by George Lucas, began with the original trilogy comprising Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983).
The saga then continued with the prequel trilogy consisting of Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).
The space opera continued with the sequel trilogy made up of Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
The spin-off from the saga saw the animated The Clone Wars making its debut in 2008, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).
The 11 Star Wars movies grossed more than US$9.3 billion at the global box office.