If you’re wondering why the release of “Star Wars: Episode VIII” has been pushed back seven months, maybe you should blame a really good Christmas.
“‘The Force Awakens’ broke the mold for what a December title can do and the shift made a lot of strategic sense,” an individual familiar with Disney’s thinking told TheWrap.
J.J. Abrams‘ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” smashed records over the final two weeks of 2015, and dethroned “Avatar” as the highest-grossing movie of all time. The original opening date for the next installment, from director Rian Johnson, was May 26, 2017. It will now open seven months later, on Dec. 15.
The previous May opening might have missed out on the family audience that helped “Force Awakens” make such an impression. Johnson has no issue with the change — the director tweeted a YouTube clip of “Christmas in the Stars” from a 1980 “Star Wars” Christmas album. Which exists.
The studio, however, will make use of its abandoned date: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” will invade that weekend, pulled up from July 7, 2017.
“If you look at ‘Pirates,’ that franchise has previously had a lot of success in May, with the last one making more than a billion with a similar release,” the insider said.
Many “Star Wars” fans on Twitter were weirdly okay with the new release date, as if some grizzled Jedi had waved his hand and told them: This is the release date you’re looking for.