After Star Wars: The Force Awakens rocked December 2015 to its core, setting over 30 box office records, it was clear the fall/winter month didn't need to be considered a deadzone of Hollywood blockbusters anymore. Eventually, it ran up the score to $2 billion worldwide and just shy of a billion in the U.S. alone.
Soon after, Star Wars: Episode VIII was officially moved from a May 2017 release to a December 2017 release. Now, there were a few other politics and company moves that helped push that along, but the success of Episode VII definitely affected Episode VIII's future. So, it stands to reason that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story being a huge hit on its own (sure, not TFA levels, but still a massive hit and topping 2016 in many categories) would affect the future of the other Star Wars Story movies.
Indeed, that's the new rumor, that the Han Solo standalone film will also move, from May 2018 to December 2018. We think that's a good move, and that Episode IX, originally slated for May 2019, should move, too. In fact, Lucasfilm should just set up shop in December and never leave. Click through for our reasons why.
December Releases Work
This one was covered a bit in the intro, obviously, but yeah, December clearly works for Star Wars. The first episode released in 10.5 years had the highest domestic gross ever, the second highest worldwide gross ever, was the fastest to 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 million dollars domestic, had the biggest box office for nearly every individual day of the week... yeah, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was huge.
When it came to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, expectations were much more tempered, and the general idea was that it was a test - could the Star Wars franchise expand beyond the saga on the big screen? That answer is now emphatically yes. Three weekends at #1, first place in UK box office in 2016 despite only 17 days of release, second place in U.S. box office in 2016 despite only 16 days of release, 700 million dollars worldwide in sixteen days, and it should pass $800 million today, on day twenty. It still has to open in the huge market of China, and has essentially no competition for at least another two or three weeks. Guaranteed at least a billion worldwide, it's proven that yes, even the risky moves are a near sure-thing. And a movie with Han Solo as the star and the ninth episodic adventure are hardly as risky.
Make it an Event
May is crowded - it's now largely considered the second month of the summer movie blitz, with at least one or two blockbusters launching in April instead. Marvel has the first weekend of May locked down (more on that in a moment), and Disney launches a new movie in theaters every three weeks all summer every summer like clockwork. That means if they're launching a Star Wars movie the third weekend of May, it's guaranteed to have competition from within the company by the second weekend of June. That's to say nothing of WB, Universal, Paramount, Sony, and any number of the comedies and animated flicks that will hit around the same time.
December, conversely can be a Star Wars month. A lavish premiere in December isn't "1 of 5," it's 1 of 1. The air is already crackling with excitement thanks to winter holidays, and getting a Star Wars movie around the same time is like an extra present. For Disney/Lucasfilm, they also don't have to worry about much, if any real competition. Rogue One has been the top of the box office for three weekends, and won't have a real challenge for another three. That kind of built-in staying power certainly has to look good.
Make May Marvel's
Lucasfilm... play nice with your big sister, now.
May has been the month of Marvel for years. Starting in 2007, a Marvel properties movie has debuted the first weekend of May every single year (albeit from a mix of three studios). Spider-Man 3, Iron Man, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Iron Man 2, Thor, Marvel's The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War have all held that spot, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 this year and Avengers: Infinity War next year.
So why not just let Marvel have that? Disney will inevitably still have another movie three weeks later, yes, but it shouldn't be a Star Wars film. The overlap of Marvel and Star Wars fans is massive. Three weeks is really not a long time to let one lie and the other get the most out of it.
Make May Marvel Month, really push the heck out of it; Star Wars fans already have their day with May the Fourth and you can keep having fun with that without taking anything away from your own box office receipts.