StarWars.com has just announced that that the Star Wars: Episode VIII release date will be May 26, 2017. Additionally, Rian Johnson has been confirmed as director. Disney also announced that the Star Wars spinoff would be titled Star Wars: Rogue One. You can read more about that here.
But focusing on Episode VIII, the big news here is that Disney is returning Star Wars to Memorial Day weekend. Star Wars: Episode VII was a big break from tradition, and also director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy both wanted Episode VII to land in May 2016 so they would have more time to work on the picture. However, Disney head Bob Iger wanted Episode VII out this year in order to appease shareholders. As I’ve noted before, this puts Star Wars fans in the awkward position of buying Star Wars merchandise for the holidays without having seen the film, which opens December 18th.
Even though Episode VIII movie won’t have the year-long gap that Star Wars: Episode VII has with Star Wars: Rogue One (which opens December 16, 2016) it doesn’t look like he’ll be burdened with the time crunch. If anything, it appears that Star Wars is going back to where it belongs.
Disney confirming Rian Johnson will write and direct Episode VIII isn’t really major news in my book. Johnson was announced for the gig last June, and ever since he’s been talking up the film in terms of the direction and use of practical effects. That’s not to say I’m indifferent to the news. I’m as ecstatic about it now as I was when it was first announced, and I can’t wait to see what he does with the franchise.
Here’s the pertinent information from the press release:
Bob Iger confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. The film, which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is set for release on May 26, 2017 — forty years and a day after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Johnson is widely considered one of cinema’s most gifted young filmmakers, having directed the modern sci-fi classic, Looper, as well as Brick and The Brothers Bloom. He was also behind the camera for three episodes of the critically-acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad, including “Ozymandias,” which series creator Vince Gilligan named as the best installment of the show. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman, producer of Looper, Don Jon, Brick, and The Brothers Bloom, are on board to produce, and J.J. Abrams will serve as executive producer.