When this new Star Wars trilogy concludes with Star Wars: Episode IX, it’ll do so in grand fashion. Despite the fact that most blockbusters nowadays are shot on digital, director J.J. Abrams made the decision to shoot Star Wars: The Force Awakens on 35mm film. It was a bold choice, and one that reinforced the idea that digital is not ubiquitous—filmmakers should be able to maintain the option of shooting on film. For Episode VIII, director Rian Johnson followed suit, shooting on 35mm film to keep the aesthetic in line with Abrams’ choice. But when Episode IX rolls around, there will be a change.
Kodak (via The Playlist) just announced that their film processing facility in the U.K. can now handle 65mm film, and one of the projects that’s listed as using this large-format film is none other than director Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX. Indeed, it appears that the intention with this trilogy-capping installment is to shoot the entire thing on 65mm film, which is akin to IMAX.
65mm film has seen a resurgence in recent years, as Christopher Nolan somewhat revived the format so that he could continue shooting his movies in IMAX while not going digital. Large swaths of Interstellar were shot on 65mm, and his upcoming World War II actioner Dunkirk was shot almost entirely in 65mm. This was also the format used by Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master and Quentin Tarantino for The Hateful Eight.
So what is 65mm film, exactly? Well the name refers to the width of the actual film cell, and shooting on 65mm film allows the filmmaker to capture a much larger frame with much higher quality. Images that may look a little grainy on 35mm will look pristine in 65mm.
Johnson actually considered shooting Episode VIII in 65mm but, due to logistical reasons, had to stick with 35. It’s possible those logistical reasons were a lack of film processing facilities in the U.K., where the Star Wars movies are based, but with Kodak now ready and willing to process 65mm, new avenues have opened up.
The site also lists Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express as films that will be shot on 65mm, so we could be about to see a major resurgence of the format in a big way.
Trevorrow will be reuniting with his Jurassic World cinematographer John Schwartzman for Episode IX (the two used 65mm for some scenes in the Jurassic rebootquel), which is in development at the moment while Lucasfilm juggles post-production on Episode VIII, readies the release of Rogue One for next month, and gears up to start production on Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s untitled Young Han Solo movie in January.
Everything’s coming up Star Wars!