'Star Wars 8' release date moved to Christmas 2017

By Shawn Price  |  Jan. 21, 2016 at 3:04 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The release date for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga has been pushed back seven months, Disney and Lucasfilm announced Wednesday.

The original release date for Star Wars: Episode VIII was to be May 26, 2017 but will now be Dec. 15, 2017. And it's likely Star Wars movies going forward will continue to be released in December, because it's good business.

"In the popular holiday movie-going corridor, it smashed numerous records," the studios said in a press release. "Including biggest domestic and global debuts of all time as well as the biggest domestic second and third weekends, en route to becoming the highest grossing domestic release of all time."

Filming was supposed to begin this month in England for the story of Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren, but will instead begin next month, Lucasfilm said.

All six previous Star Wars movies have been May releases until The Force Awakens. Script delays pushed the most recent film back to a holiday release and the film has seen a bigger box office return than any of the previous films. The launch of the parallel Star Wars anthology series arrives Dec. 16 of this year with Rogue One.

The Force Awakens is currently third on the worldwide box office chart with $1.9 billion dollars in sales, behind Titanic with $2.2 billion and Avatar with $2.8 billion.

Disney announced the next Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, Dead Men Tell No Tales will move into the May 2017 release slot.

Director James Cameron said last year his Avatar sequel could open Christmas 2017, possibly putting the two blockbuster sequels almost head to head for holiday box office bucks next year.

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