Earlier today, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that they pushed back the release date on Star Wars: Episode VIII from May 26, 2017 to December 15, 2017. The official press release made sure to cite Star Wars: The Force Awakens' strong box office success "outside the traditional summer blockbuster window." That led to assumptions about the delay being part of a master plan to make the month of December the franchise's permanent landing spot.
Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter heard from his sources that Episode VIII is being delayed so the script can be adjusted to capitalize on the unexpected popularity of the new characters. "Obviously the December date worked out very (very) well for them but I've also heard they are rewriting the script," he tweeted. "I've heard from several sources the rewrites are positive, based on audience reaction to the new characters. People loved them. So strongly. And Lucasfilm was surprised at how well they were received, according to several sources."
It would explain why principal photography on Episode VIII won't begin until next month, which is slightly behind schedule. During last month's global press day, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy told reporters that filming would start in January.
Star Wars: Episode VIII is written and directed by Rian Johnson, and will start filming in London's Pinewood Studios in the next few weeks, continuing the story of Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, plus more legacy characters and all-new characters.
Star Wars: Episode VIII will land in theaters December 15, 2017.