Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker finally hit theaters this weekend, but the film wasn't universally acclaimed by critics and fans alike.
In fact, the ninth and final Star Wars episode holds the second-worst Rotten Tomatoes score (a middling 57%, which is considered "rotten") of the entire live-action franchise, after The Phantom Menace (a 53%). The project's director and co-writer, J.J. Abrams, responded to the negative backlash on Friday evening after a screening in Los Angeles.
***WARNING! The following contains certain spoilers for the latest Star Wars film!***
"I would say that they’re right,” he said, referring to those who weren't enamored of the movie. "[But] the people who love it more than anything are also right. I was asked … ‘So, how do you go about pleasing everyone?’ I was like: ‘What … ?’ Not to say that that's what anyone should try to do anyway, but how would one even go about it? Especially with Star Wars?"
The director, who co-wrote the Rise of Skywalker script with Oscar-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio, went on to say that we live in an age where fandoms can turn toxic at the turn of a dime.
"I don’t need to tell anybody here, we live in a moment where everything immediately seems to default to outrage," Abrams continued. "There’s a kind of M.O. of just either ‘It’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy.' ... It’s a crazy thing that there is such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance and compassion — and this is not about Star Wars, this is about everything. Compassion and acceptance ... We knew, starting this, any decision we made—a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision—would please someone and infuriate someone else.”
Abrams also touched on the fact that Episode IX undoes a lot of the choices made by Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, especially the explanation for where Rey (Daisy Ridley) comes from. In particular, we learn that Rey isn't a nobody after all, but the powerful granddaughter of the film's main antagonist, Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
"I think one of the ideas, one of the themes of the movie is that anyone can be anything, regardless of where you're from," explained the director. "I don't know if it resonates for everyone, but I think there are quite a few people who appreciate that idea of not coming from a place that you're not particularly excited about ... or proud of and though I completely understand you're nobody is a devastating thing—to me, the more painful, the more shocking thing, was the idea that you're from the worst possible place."
While there's hasn't been overwhelming acclaim for it, The Rise of Skywalker still amassed a small fortune at the domestic box office this weekend with $176 million. Internationally, the film has made $374 million.