Scheduling changes for films come as no surprise in the industry. As we have seen when Star Wars: The Force Awakens announced that it would open on December 18, 2015, studios rescheduled the release of some of their tentpole films to an earlier or later date. Given the huge box office success that The Force Awakens has become, it makes sense that Disney would want to release more Star Wars films in the month of December.
Originally scheduled for a May 26, 2017 release, it should come as no surprise that the Rian Johnson-directed Star Wars: Episode VIII has now been pushed back to a December 2017 release. Check out what other movies are affected by this change after the jump.
Disney made the announcement in a press release delivered earlier today.
By making this change Star Wars: Episode VIII opens a few days before James Cameron’s Avatar 2, which is currently scheduled for December 25, 2017, and will be in direct competition against Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. One is a long-awaited sequel to a sci-fi hit, the other an adaptation of an award-winning geek novel.
However, the change has an effect on Disney films as well. Consider this: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is currently scheduled for a May 5, 2017 release. Which if Star Wars: Episode VIII had stuck with its original date wouldn’t have been the best business decision (or would not have been the most lucrative one for that matter) for Disney who owns both Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm. But the move to December is also a beneficial one since summer is overcrowded with tentpole films. And as we have seen before, December is the next best option. This move also shifts a long-standing tradition of Star Wars films being released in the month of May. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is scheduled for a December 16, 2016 release.
Now, as for other projects. Disney will also be moving Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales from its July 7, 2017 release to May 26, 2017. The Sony and Marvel Studio Spider-Man reboot will also be rescheduled and claim the July 7, 2017 release.
It’s not clear now if Fox or Warner Bros. will shift the release of their films to avoid competition with the Star Wars juggernaut. Both cater to the geek demographic and aren’t exactly what you call counter-programming the way Sisters or Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip was when it opened against The Force Awakens. So it should be interesting to see if any of the studios budge.