Fans will have to wait a few months longer than expected for the next installment in the new Star Wars trilogy.
Disney and Lucasfilm announced Wednesday that Episode VIII, the sequel to The Force Awakens, has moved to a Dec. 15, 2017 release—just one week before Avatar 2.
The film’s original release date of May 26, 2017, was announced nearly a year ago.
The new date places Episode VIII’s release just short of a year after The Force Awakens, which broke nearly every box-office record thanks to repeat viewings from new and longtime fans alike.
As CNN’s Frank Pallotta noted, Lucasfilm also pushed back The Force Awakens from summer to winter, although in that case it was because director J.J. Abrams felt he needed more time.
— Frank Pallotta (@frankpallotta) January 20, 2016
It appears that Episode VIII director Rian Johnson felt a similar sense of relief.
In a statement on StarWars.com, Lucasfilm said:
“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.”
The move not only gives fans more time to dive into each film—and more breathing room to prepare for the next one—but it also means that Episode VIII won’t have to compete against the long list of summer blockbusters being released in the summer. Marvel’s Guardians of Galaxy Vol. 2, another Disney production, will be one of those films.
A holiday release also suggests that people will have time to see it over and over again—at least, if the massive success of The Force Awakens is any indication.
Screengrab via Star Wars/YouTube