While The Rise of Skywalker is anything but a flop, a domestic box office total of $503 million so far — significantly less than The Last Jedi and slightly less even than Rogue One — has to be considered a disappointment. Even though some fans responded favorably to the film, in other circles Rise of Skywalker has proven almost as controversial as The Last Jedi; with fans of Rey and Kylo Ren dissatisfied with the conclusion of their arc, and many Star Wars obsessives arguing that the proposed storyline from original director Colin Trevorrow’s script would have been better than what J.J. Abrams came up with.

Abrams spoke candidly about the reaction to The Rise of Skywalker this week at the 2020 Upfront Summit. Per Variety, when the conversation turned to Abrams’ involvement with the Skywalker Saga, this is what he had to say:

‘The truth is that these are things that are meant to entertain people, to make them feel something and hopefully make them feel good,’ said Abrams, calling his involvement with the Lucasfilm trilogy a ‘blessing.’ ‘Obviously, it doesn’t always work. It’s hard when it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, you have to understand it, you have to acknowledge it, you have to examine it.’

Abrams has been down this road before. He made one Star Trek that fans loved and one (Star Trek Into Darkness) they did not. And Lost went through waves of adulation and rejection. It’s how this game is played. That said, however he’s understanding it, acknowledging it, and examining it, it doesn’t seem — given those past examples — that he fully learned from them with The Rise of Skywalker. Maybe next time.

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