When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters later this year, Star Wars fanatics need to absorb as much of it as physically possible and cling to the "Force" that it emits, because it’s going to be the only Star Wars they get for a full year. While Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII was due to come out five months after the release of Rogue One, Disney just announced via an official press release that the direct sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been pushed back to December 2017.
No reason is given for the release-date shift for Star Wars: Episode VIII, leaving us room to speculate. More on that in a second. For now, we know that Episode VIII has moved from May 26, 2017 to December 15, 2017. That means fans will be waiting roughly seven months longer than they expected to see the next chapter in the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). It also means that Rian Johnson has more time to work on this anticipated sequel… a silver lining of good news.
This was Johnson's perfect reply to the news:
What might be the reasons for this delay? Believe it or not, the most obvious reasons are all positive. Obviously, a December release date proved to be extremely successful for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams’ movie, the first Star Wars is years, broke numerous box office records and revived the franchise. Disney likely expects Rogue One to perform on a similar level, and there had been chatter in movie-reporting circles of the studio shifting most (if not all) of their Star Wars movies to December. The move allows Star Wars to avoid the normal glut of superhero movies – Disney owns Marvel, as well, so having Star Wars compete with a Marvel movie makes no business sense.
We also have been reporting on rewrites happening to Star Wars: Episode VIII, with the word being that Rian Johnson was rewriting his own script to place more of an emphasis on the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens. This sentiment is being backed up by a series of Tweets by Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter, who states:
So, a little good news/bad news. While fans will have to wait an additional seven months to see what happened after Rey met Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on his deserted island, the delay is being caused by Disney listening to the concerns of the audience, and altering the story to deliver more of what people want. What do you think of the release date shift? At least we still have Rogue One this year. Right?