It's not too late for Solo: A Star Wars Story to change its release date, but could it actually happen? It's recently broken that both New Mutants and Deadpool 2 are changing their release dates, a move that has a big impact for the Star Wars anthology movie. The former is being pushed back almost a year from April 13 (a month before Solo) of this year to February 22, while Deadpool 2 has shifted from June 1 (a week after Solo's scheduled May 25 release date) to May 18 (a week before). These are major, late-in-the-day changes that could mean a lot.
Solo has held 2018's Memorial Day weekend since 2015 (the same time later Phil Lord and Chris Miller were hired to direct), and hasn't moved since. However, there's been a mounting expectation for it to do so. Since that announcement, Disney-era Star Wars has become synonymous with December releases - The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi all hit in the week before Christmas, and the same will be true of J.J. Abrams Star Wars Episode IX - and so it was long-expected Solo would fall in line. This was doubly true in light of its director problems, with Lord and Miller fired after nearly 85% of filming was complete and replaced with Ron Howard who was shooting until October, a time-frame that would conventionally necessitate a release shift.
And yet, nothing has been forthcoming. The hiring of Howard? No move. The end of production? A title, but still no move. Now we inch closer and closer without a trailer and there's a general confusion as to what's going on with Solo. Could it still move? The New Mutants/Deadpool 2 shocker definitely makes clear that it's not out of the question for a studio to move a tentpole with a few months' notice, even after date-specific advertising has started (both films' teasers pushed the initial weekend).
However, we're dealing with two different studios. Yes, Disney has just bought Fox (Congress pending) in an industry-changing deal but, at the moment, they're both still proceeding under a sense of prior normality. Shifts in one studio do not necessarily speak of changes at another. Further, we know Disney run a rigid ship, and as such a date change this close to release for what is - regardless of box office potential - a key movie is unexpected. As we've discussed before, the move of Star Wars from December to May has some wider brand synergy implications, with holiday-style picture Mary Poppins Returns more fitting of the holiday slot than a scoundrel standalone.
Admittedly, the delay would fit the situation with the long-awaited trailer. Even if it was to drop in the next week (it was expected on Friday, but that was recently disproved) it's coming four months before release, a time period shorter than that of Fantastic Four (and we all know how that turned out). Could that be read as an accidental sign that things are changing? Possibly, but there's a pervasive sense this was always part of the plan. The marketing for a new Star Wars film has yet to overlap, and even with a tighter schedule that wasn't ever expected to change for Solo.
It's entirely possible that the Deadpool and New Mutants shift is going to be followed up by a Solo release date change. But, taking into account everything we know and expect from the film, studio, and distributor, that just doesn't seem likely. Solo is coming in May, and it will take some serious carbonite to get in its way.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019