After coming out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my first thought was literally “I wish they’d filmed this new Star Wars trilogy at the same time so we could have a new movie three years straight, like Lord of The Rings.” Well, Disney and Lucasfilm have decided to add salt to that wound, announcing this week that the Star Wars Episode 8 release date has been delayed from May to December 2017.
The Star Wars Episode 8 release date was originally slated for Memorial Day weekend next year. While that would have been great for franchise fans, it would’ve caused an audience-poaching headache for Disney and may have hindered the total box-office haul for Star Wars Episode 8.
You see, with the Star Wars Episode 8 release date slated for Memorial Day 2017, Disney would’ve had three massive franchises essentially hitting the box office at the same time. Originally, Disney was planning to release Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5, Star Wars Episode 8 at the end of May, the next Pirates of the Caribbean sometime in early summer and Cars 3 on June 16.
By pushing out the Star Wars Episode 8 release date to December 15, Disney alleviates some of that box-office crush. In its place, the next Pirates of the Caribbean will move up a few weeks to take over the Memorial Day 2017 weekend slot. Here’s hoping Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow still has the “savvy” to kick-start what could be Disney’s best summer box-office ever.
Delaying the Star Wars Episode 8 release date also gives the studio extra time to work on the script and production aspects. Filming has been scheduled to begin in early 2016.
Whereas JJ Abrams led The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson is the director for Star Wars Episode 8. The main characters, sans Han Solo, will return for Episode 8, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Mark Hamill.
Aside from accommodating release-date logistics, the move also increases Episode 8’s potential to follow in The Force Awakens’ box-office success. To date, The Force Awakens has hauled-in more than $1.8 billion worldwide. By moving the Star Wars Episode 8 release date to December 2017, Disney will hope the film benefits from a similar Christmas-holiday attendance bump.