Once upon a time, in a 2013 announcement that now seems far, far behind us, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was pushed back from a summer 2015 release to its debut one month ago. And despite some hand-wringing at the time, we all know how that worked out.
Now, for "Star Wars: Episode VIII," the studio and filmmakers are going to the same page in the playbook. Disney has just announced that the next film in the main "Star Wars" franchise will be released Dec. 15, 2017 -- instead of the initial release date of May 26, 2017.
The move not only gives incoming director Rian Johnson additional time to work his magic; it also underscores that any long-lingering myths about the limits of December box office have been vaporized.
Plus, instead of overcrowding the schedule like a bustling cantina, the "Star Wars" films now each get the full elbow room of being one year apart. The first big "Star Wars" spinoff, "Rogue One," is scheduled to be released this Dec. 16. And it'll be intriguing to see whether this creates a pattern of success that prompts Disney to release every "Star Wars" film in December.
And interestingly, this move ripples down the Kasdan family line. Lawrence Kasdan has worked on four "Star Wars" screenplays, including "The Force Awakens" and a forthcoming Han Solo film. One of his sons, Jake Kasdan, is directing Sony's "Jumanji" reboot, which the studio announced this afternoon is being delayed from its initial release date (this Dec. 25) to July 28, 2017 -- the very summer that "Star Wars: Episode VIII" was previously positioned to dominate.
In other release rescheduling announced today, according to the Hollywood trades: Sony's 2017 "Spider-Man" moves up from July 28 to July 7; and Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" moves back a matter of days -- from May 26, 2017, to July 7.