For the new era of Star Wars movies, what started out as an unfortunate compromise might turn into a new annual tradition. Disney didn’t exactly want to release The Force Awakens in December. They had to because it took J.J. Abrams and crew longer than expected to finish the script. So, a movie due for release in the summer of 2015 ended up being pushed back to December, thus making it the first Star Wars movie to ever venture outside of the summer.
As you might have heard, that kind of paid off for them. The Force Awakens might have broken some box records or something. I don’t know. No one’s really paid much attention to that kind of thing. The Force Awakens is just the highest-grossing film of all time in North America, and near the top of the list worldwide. No big deal.
Disney doesn’t want to mess with what worked. The next Star Wars movie, the prequel Rogue One is due out this December. Now, Episode 8 has been pushed back seven months, from Memorial Day weekend in 2017 to December 15 of that year. The next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Dead Men Tell No Tales, will take Episode 8‘s old release date, May 26, 2017. There have been reports that Rian Johnson is taking another pass at the Episode 8 script to give more screen time to some of the Force Awakens’ beloved new character, but the cause for the delay apparently has nothing to do with any kind of need for extra time. Instead, it’s just a matter of wanting to mimic the strategy they used for The Force Awakens.
Looking ahead, Episode 9 does not have a specific release date beyond the general “sometime in 2019,” and the Han Solo origins movie is due May 25, 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that also pushed back to a December date. I am personally okay with the idea of this becoming an annual Christmas tradition, similar to how the separate Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies each came out in consecutive Decembers.
The release date changes for Episode 8 and Pirates of the Caribbean did trigger several other moves. The new Jumanji has been pushed back from December 25, 2016 to July 28, 2017, taking Spider-Man‘s old release date since it has moved up a couple of weeks to July 7.
So, back when The Force Awakens was pushed back we had to wonder how weird it would be seeing a Star Wars movie released at some time other than the summer. Now we’re wondering if any Star Wars movie will come out at any time other than December.
Rogue One is due out December 16, 2016, and Episode 8 is due out December 15, 2017. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to the Han Solo prequel.