After The Force Awakens broke box office records — and completely obliterated what prognosticators believed was possible for a December-released film — the Star Wars franchise has pushed back its Episode VIII from May 2017 to December 15th, 2017.
Lucasfilms and Disney provided no explanation for why the film was postponed, but The Force Awakens's massive success, coupled with the December 2016 arrival of the Star Wars anthology film Rogue One, likely convinced Disney to monopolize the week before Christmas with their never-ending string of Star Wars films.
To fill the studio's May 26th, 2017, vacancy, Disney announced the next installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise — dubbed Dead Men Tell No Tales — will slide up from its original July 7th release date, Deadline reports.
Despite the seven-month delay, pre-production on the Rian Johnson-directed Episode VIII appears to remain on schedule, with principal photography scheduled to begin on The Force Awakens follow-up next month in London. "Stay tuned for exciting updates in the coming weeks," Lucasfilms and Disney promised in their statement.