Disney Pushes Release of 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' to December 2017

Briefly: It's official - Disney has moved the release date of Star Wars: Episode VIII from May 2017 to December 2017. The highly-anticipated sequel to The Force Awakens, being directed by Rian Johnson, was originally scheduled by Lucasfilm/Disney for May 26th, 2017. Now it has been rescheduled for release on December 15th, 2017. This puts it in line with the December release for The Force Awakens and the December release for Rogue One later this year. This also now pits Episode VIII to open head-to-head against James Cameron's Avatar 2, which is supposed to open Christmas 2017. A few other studios have shifted 2017 releases in response. The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie will take over Star Wars' slot.

The move follows the extraordinary success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was the first Star Wars movie to premiere outside the traditional summer blockbuster window and 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 with over $861.3 million and the third biggest global release ever with $1,886.7 billion.

In addition to Disney moving Pirates of the Caribbean 5 with Johnny Depp into the former summer Star Wars spot in May, Sony has shifted their new Spider-Man reboot to July 7th, 2017 (the former Pirates slot). This release date "delay" for Episode VIII seems to be linked more to the potential to make money opening in December than any productions delays. They are in the middle of production on Rogue One, and they're beginning to ramping up pre-production on Episode VIII with shooting slated for this year. Rian Johnson will be directing, and the entire cast from The Force Awakens will be returning, namely Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, plus of course Mark Hamill as Luke.