Disney has given Star Wars fans a lot to love this year, but an announcement Wednesday will likely be much less well-received: The studio has elected to delay the theatrical release of Star Wars: Episode VIII, pushing it back from its previously scheduled May 26, 2017 berth to December 15, 2017. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will take over the film’s original slot.
The studio didn’t explain the reasoning behind the move, but we suspect that the titanic success of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens may have been a primary factor. The film opened in U.S. theaters on December 18 to much fanfare, breaking all-time domestic box office records in less than a month. Why would Disney want to mess with a good thing?
The move also frees up a very desirable date for another one of the studio’s wildly popular franchises. Dead Men Tell No Tales was previously set for July 7, 2017, but now it’ll have the chance to open over Memorial Day weekend. The new berth should position the Johnny Depp-starrer for even greater box office success without drastically shortening its post-production phase. The film has already entered that stage, whereas Episode VIII is still in pre-production.
Star Wars fans may not be crazy about having to wait almost seven more months for the next installment in the current trilogy, but there is a silver lining: The extra time will hopefully ensure that director Rian Johnson has all the time he needs to put together a satisfying follow-up to JJ Abrams’ excellent revitalization of the franchise. There’s no reason to think he wouldn’t (after all, J.J. Abrams reportedly loved his script), but more time can’t hurt. Furthermore, with spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story set for December 16, 2016, we’ll have something to tide us over.
The hope for Star Wars fans of all shapes and sizes is that pre-production troubles had no bearing on the date swap.
As if the wait wasn’t long enough already, this is a pretty big push for a film of this magnitude. The “Good things come…” proverb may be the only solace for Star Wars mega fans at this moment — that and the reprieve offered by Rogue One on Dec 16.