While many questioned whether releasing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December instead of making it a traditional summer tentpole was a good idea, the record-breaking debut (bolstered by holiday weekends and kids being out of school) speaks for itself. Now it seems the release strategy worked so well that Disney is pushing back the release of the untitled Episode VIII from May 2017 to December.
The silver lining is that now Disney's Pirates of the Carribean sequel, Dead Men Tell No Tales, will hit theatres a bit earlier and take Episode VIII's original release date.
From Walt Disney Studios Publicity:
This morning, The Walt Disney Studios announced new release dates for upcoming films from two of its major franchises.
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 with over $861M and the third biggest global release ever with $1.887B.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: Episode VIII is currently in pre-production and will begin principal photography in London next month. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman will produce and J.J. Abrams, Tom Karnowski, and Jason McGatlin will executive produce. Stay tuned to StarWars.com for exciting updates in the coming weeks.
With Star Wars: Episode VIII jumping to December, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will set sail on May 26, 2017, from its previously scheduled July 7, 2017, berth. The blockbuster franchise’s previous installment, the $1B-grossing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, also debuted in late May.
In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow with Geoffrey Rush back on board as Barbossa, Orlando Bloom resurfacing as Will Turner, and a terrifying new adversary, Captain Salazar, played by Javier Bardem, in the mix. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, the film is currently in post-production.
It should be noted that the release of The Force Awakens was delayed in a similar fashion to allow J.J. Abrams and the creative team enough time to complete the film. That could be the impetus once again, but Disney may also just see more value in spreading out their release calendar.
Either way, we'll have to wait a little bit longer to see what the next chapter of the Star Wars saga holds.