A few weeks ago, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said that the future of the Star Wars franchise would be discussed and largely decided in January 2017. She was hesitant to talk too much about the immediate future, then, of either the "Skywalker Saga" films, denoted by an episode number, or the new standalone films, now known to the world as "Star Wars Stories." She wanted to wait to see how Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first of its kind, did before making any new plans. Rogue One is an unqualified success, and that may already be changing plans for Lucasfilm.
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While not quite at the ridiculous levels of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which broke over 30 box office records, Rogue One is vastly outperforming industry expectations. It finished 2016 with only two full weeks and change in theaters, yet topped the UK box office for the entire year and came in second - sandwiched between Disney/Pixar's Finding Dory and Disney/Marvel Studios production Captain America: Civil War - in the U.S. It will pass one billion dollars worldwide, and do it all from the otherwise traditionally weak winter release timeframe.
According to a rumor from MakingStarWars, it looks like Han Solo: A Star Wars Story (not final title) will follow suit, making the jump from its current May 2018 release date to that same week 2-December release. After The Force Awakens bullied the box office, Star Wars: Episode VIII followed suit, moving to December 2017, and it looks like history may repeat itself with the Star Wars Story movies. According to theater sources they cited, December 13, 2018 will be the new release date for Han Solo, bumping it back almost seven months from May 25, 2018.
MakingStarWars also rightly points out that official Lucasfilm and Disney press materials about the Han Solo film no longer carry the May date, instead using the broader 2018. Not definitive, but it does point to a change.
Han Solo starts principal photography in February 2017, directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord. Next up is Star Wars: Episode VIII from writer/director Rian Johnson, set for December 15, 2017.
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