"Star Wars 8" Release Date Postponed to Christmas 2017

Retail research firm NPD Group tells Reuters that Star Wars toys generated sales of more than $700 million in 2015. But it will be a Star Wars Christmas again in 2017.

Today, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that Star Wars: Episode VIII, originally scheduled for release in summer 2017, will now debut on December 15, 2017. But for the second time, Avatar 2 is going backwards and a Star Wars film is free to be the undisputed big event film of winter.

All six previous Star Wars movies have been May releases until The Force Awakens. It is also the third highest grossing movie globally, with over $1,886.7 billion collections.

The movie is in pre-production, with filming set to begin next month in London, the studios said. Johnson also wrote and directed The Brothers Bloom (with Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's sci-fi time travel thriller Looper, which also starred Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt.

Though the company did not cite a specific reason for the delayed release date, the Hollywood Reporter says that Disney insiders have chose to make the change because of the bumper box office figures recently enjoyed by The Force Awakens over the festive period.

Plot details have predictably been kept tightly guarded.

Jeff Sneider from The Wrap reported that the Episode VIII script was being rewritten in order to reduce screen time for certain new characters and give Rey, Boyega's Finn and Isaac's Poe Dameron even more attention.

Meanwhile, there's also word that - finally - a title will be revealed along with confirmation on some of the new castmembers, including Benicio Del Toro's as-yet unidentified villain. What's his involvement with Supreme Leader Snoke?

The statement does offer some comfort to loyal fans with the confirmation that The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams WILL still be involved in the new film, altough he will only produce, not direct. That series, taking place in-between the eras of the first two trilogies, has woven characters new and old, including this week's appearance by Princess Leia, onto the show. Nor does it include the toys that are continuing to fly off the shelves in 2016, so there's no telling just how lucrative the Star Wars brand has been for Disney.

In the interim, Gareth Edwards' "Star Wars" spin-off "Rogue One" is due out December 16 this year. The film stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk and Jonathan Aris.

Episode VIII is reported to be in pre-production, with "principal photography" starting next month.

Disney said it will put the fifth instalment of its popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, starring Johnny Depp, in the May 2017 slot previously occupied by "Episode VIII".

Another was a liitle more melodramatic posting: "They pushed back the release date of star wars episode 8 by 7 months why do they want to hurt me?? why do they always do me so dirty???"

What's your theory about Supreme Leader Snoke?

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