Today, Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm announced that Star Wars: Episode VIII will be released in theaters on December 15, 2017, instead of the previously planned date of May 26, 2017. That means we’ll have to wait an extra seven months to find out what’s next for Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, and, yes, Kylo Ren. Moreover, the first three Star Wars films of the new series will dominate the holiday seasons of the next few years, with Rogue One out December 16, 2016.
The holidays seem to be a big reason for the switch. In a press release, the studio explained, “The move follows the extraordinary success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was the first Star Wars movie to premiere in December. In the popular holiday moviegoing corridor, it smashed numerous records, including biggest domestic and global debuts of all time…” It makes sense that they would want to replicate that success. (Interestingly, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will take over Episode VIII’s May 26 slot, moving up from July 7.)
Before the press release came out, there were rumors that writer/director Rian Johnson is rewriting the script, which would also explain the delay. According to /Film, a recent episode of the Meet the Movie Press podcast suggested that Episode VIII would be delayed by at least a month, as Johnson downsized several new characters in order to maintain a tight focus on Rey, Finn, and Poe.
In the meantime, we’ll just reread this excellent Star Wars: Episode 7.5 comic and pretend it’s canon.