StarWars.com’s Twitter just confirmed that the final chapter of the current Star Wars trilogy has been pushed back to December 20th, 2019. It was slated to hit on May 24th, 2019. This is all thanks to J.J. Abrams returning to direct the film after some recent shake ups.
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.
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.