Lucasfilm and Disney have yet to release Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but they’ve now confirmed that the followup Star Wars: Episode IX will debut in May. The studios have found great success recently with December, ever since they brought back Star Wars. The Force Awakens was the first film of this new slate to hit in December and did so with record-breaking success, thanks to a lack of blockbuster competition. Even their first anthology movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story benefited from the December launch and crossed $1 billion worldwide.
The Last Jedi is currently set to be released this December, but that may be the final Star Wars film to come out in the winter. Han Solo already has laid claim to an end of May 2018 release date, and now Episode IX has landed a release the year after.
Disney has announced that Episode IX will follow suit with Han Solo and debut in the heart of the summer season, specifically on May 24, 2019. This will mark the first episodic movie to debut in May since the Star Wars relaunch, and means fans will have an even shorter wait following The Last Jedi.
This is a somewhat surprising move for Disney and Lucasfilm to make at this stage. The Last Jedi already figures to be a box office hit this December where it experiences little competition, but the summer season can be a much more competitive time – even for Star Wars. Both Rogue One and The Force Awakens had great legs and continued to bring in new and repeat viewings thanks to the lack of competition, but that will not be the case in the summer. Now, opening weekend numbers will be much more important as the heavy competition will mean diminishing returns as Episode IX goes on.
Episode IX is only in the pre-production stage at this point, and now has just about two years to get the movie finished. Director Colin Trevorrow recently revealed that a script is in place and they’re working on making that a final version, one that won’t include Carrie Fisher as Leia. This move to May for what could be all Star Wars movies may be an effort to avoid James Cameron’s impending onslaught of Avatar sequels, starting with Avatar 2 arriving in 2020.
Even so, an early release should make Star Wars fans ecstatic as it means even less time between the end of The Last Jedi and the debut of the final installment in the trilogy. The Last Jedi will surely leave audiences wanting more and with new questions, so instead of the two year gap between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it will be merely a year and a half.