Star Wars: Episode IX has a new release date, and will open in December 2019 instead of its previously scheduled May window. The film has recently undergone massive changes in the creative team, with Force Awakens helmsman J.J. Abrams stepping in to replace the departed Colin Trevorrow (who left the project last week due to creative differences with Lucasfilm). Abrams is also writing the movie alongside Argo scribe Chris Terrio, which isn't a surprising development considering the script was the biggest hurdle Trevorrow (and then Jack Thorne) was unable to clear.
That Star Wars 9 saw such an overhaul at this stage in development was somewhat alarming, since the plan was for production on the sequel to begin in January 2018 - four months from this writing - so it could meet its summer 2019 release date. However, Lucasfilm is keen on ending the sequel trilogy on a strong note, and are willing to give Abrams and Terrio more time to crack the story. As was the case with its predecessors, Episode IX will be a holiday affair and arrive in theaters for Christmas.
The official Star Wars Twitter account broke the news today, announcing December 20, 2019 is when the film will be released.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release on December 20, 2019. pic.twitter.com/rDBqmuHX89
— Star Wars (@starwars) September 12, 2017
While next year's Han Solo anthology movie remains on course for a May premiere, the new era of Star Wars on film has found tremendous success in December. Both The Force Awakens and Rogue One posted monster numbers at the box office, taking advantage of limited competition and waves of positive buzz. This year's The Last Jedi is also set to dominate multiplexes over the winter, so it isn't surprising Lucasfilm repositioned Episode IX to replicate that performance. This also gives the studio another opportunity to put together a massive Force Friday event in fall 2019, unveiling Star Wars 9 merchandise just in time for holiday shopping. As indicated above, there additionally is an artistic reason behind this decision, since Abrams and his team now have some extra breathing room when penning the screenplay. Some will recall Abrams requested Force Awakens be pushed back, so it's possible something similar happened here. The last thing Lucasfilm wants is to rush a troubled production through for the sake of making a release date.
This sets up a rather interesting box office showdown a couple years from now, as Warner Bros. recently slotted Wonder Woman 2 for December 13, 2019. Diana Prince proved to be a box office juggernaut in her own right this summer, when Wonder Woman grossed $410.5 million domestically. Since both WB and Lucasfilm will want to maximize profits for their highly-anticipated blockbusters, it seems unlikely both will stay in December. Fans will be watching with a curious eye to see if Wonder Woman 2 shifts to a different timeframe so it avoids going head-to-head with the possible end of the Skywalker saga. Star Wars is always a cinematic event, and everything else would be wise to stay out of its path.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019