In news that shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, Disney have just announced that Star Wars: Episode VIII has had it’s release date pushed back to May 26 to December 15 2017. Rumors of rewrites on the script have been doing the rounds recently but that doesn’t figure in Disney’s official statement. And nor does it seem likely to be the reason as the film wasn’t scheduled to begin principal photography until next month anyhow.
Disney’s statement says:
“Star Wars: Episode VIII, originally scheduled for release on May 26, 2017, will now debut on December 15, 2017. The move follows the extraordinary success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was the first Star Wars movie to premiere in December. In the popular holiday moviegoing corridor, it smashed numerous records, including biggest domestic and global debuts of all time as well as the biggest domestic second and third weekends, en route to becoming the highest grossing domestic release of all time…”
So it all comes down to the $$$, which isn’t surprising considering the sheer amount of dough The Force Awakens has and continues to pull in (it’s just gone past $100m in China). Interestingly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was originally slated for a similar May release date last year and it was only J.J. Abrams‘ request for more time that got it moved to December. Prior to this, all previous six films in the series were released on or within a week of Memorial Day. Now it seems Christmas will be Star Wars, at least for the next two years. It remains to be seen whether the Star Wars Story Young Han Solo movie will retain it’s May 25 2018 date or whether that too will migrate to December.
What this date change does do is set up a potentially titanic (sorry, couldn’t resist) box office battle with Avatar 2, which is due for release on Christmas Day 2017, 10 days after Rey and Finn blast back on our screens. Is a game of chicken afoot between Disney and 20th Century Fox? Will either blink first? We somehow doubt it, which could well lead to one of the biggest celluloid showdowns in recent memory.