′Star Wars: Episode VIII′ delayed until December 2017 | Film | DW | 21.01.2016
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'Star Wars: Episode VIII' delayed until December 2017

With "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" breaking records at the box office, fans can hardly wait for the next film - but now they'll have to. The December 2017 release puts Episode VIII head-to-head with "Avatar 2."

Originally slated for release in May 2017, "Star Wars: Episode VIII" will now open in theaters on December 15, 2017, Disney and Lucasfilm announced Wednesday (21.01.2016).

The last edition, "The Force Awakens," raked in a record $861 million in the US and an additional $1.88 billion globallyin just five weeks after opening in December 2015, and the franchise is looking to capitalize once again on a holiday release.

"The move follows the extraordinary success of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' which was the first 'Star Wars' movie to premiere outside the traditional summer blockbuster window and smashed numerous records," the studios said in a statement.

An unofficial fan account for actress Daisy Ridley, who held the starring role in "The Force Awakens," quickly posted this popular gif in response to the news.

While Disney did not explain the reason behind the delay, rumors have taken off that writer-director Rian Johnson, who also directed "Looper," may be rewriting the script. He follows J.J. Abrams, who directed "The Force Awakens."

Still in pre-production, filming is set to start next month in London with the stars we met in the most recent episode: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega.

A December 2017 start date means "Star Wars: Episode VIII" could coincide with the launch of the long-awaited "Avatar" sequel by James Cameron. "The Force Awakens" broke the record previously held by the first "Avatar" film for the highest grossing film in North America.

The ninth episode of Star Wars is still planned for release on May 24, 2019. In the meantime, "Rogue One," a spin-off, will hit theater on December 16, 2016.

kbm/ (AP, AFP)

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