Kathleen Kennedy said in Vanity Fair that Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow turned in a script for the movie in early December. Later that month, the world experienced the devastating loss of Carrie Fisher, which means the story would have to change. Kennedy confirmed that they had to start over, and we also know that cameras will start rolling in January 2018.
Many fans are debating and speculating the future of the character of Leia, and how she will be handled in the final installment of this trilogy. Trevorrow spoke to CinemaBlend about how they handled the whole thing:
She was a major character, that's not a secret. She really was. And it was extremely sad for all of us, mostly just because she was so loved by the Star Wars family and everyone that worked with her. I feel like our options are limited mostly by ourselves, in that there is only certain things that we are willing to do. But I can guarantee it will be handled with love and respect, and all of the soul that Carrie Fisher deserves.