Production is officially underway on Star Wars: Episode IX and for fans, that means we are that much closer to the day the final chapter in the Skywalker saga hits theaters in December 2019.
But when in December 2019 will JJ Abrams' latest entry in the Star Wars franchise hit theaters? For months, fans have been told that Episode IX will hit the big screen on December 20, but recently official materials for the film -- including the press release announcing the film's cast -- have noted a general "December 2019" instead. Is the movie's release date shifting?
The short answer is maybe. It's possible that that Lucasfilm could be shifting the film's release date, most likely back a week which would keep it in line with the release dates for the previous two films in the trilogy. The Force Awakens opened on December 18, 2015 and The Last Jedi opened on December 15, 2017. Moving Episode IX back a week to December 13, 2019 would give the film a bit over a week before the Christmas holiday like its predecessors. The Christmas holiday could also be a more direct influence on a hypothetical release date change. With Christmas falling on a Wednesday in 2019, it's likely many people will choose to travel over the weekend of the 20th. While travel won't stop some die-hard Star Wars fans from catching the film its opening weekend, it could impact overall numbers -- and numbers are something Lucasfilm might be paying close attention to following Solo: A Star Wars Story's disappointing box office performance.
If Episode IX's release date is shifting, it also wouldn't be the first time. The film had originally been slated for a May 24, 2019 release but was pushed back to December after it was announced that Abrams was replacing Colin Trevorrow as director on the film. The change in director and screenwriter ultimately pushed the film's timeline back a little over six months.
Of course, the idea that Episode IX is getting a different release date is all speculation at this point. With the film early in its production, Lucasfilm could just be sticking with a generic December 2019 release window because there are a lot of things that have to happen to get from here to premiere. What is known for certain is some of the film's casting details, including new-to-the-franchise actors Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant as well as the return of veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa. The late actress will appear in Episode IX thanks to previously unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. It's Fisher's posthumous inclusion in the film that Abrams referenced in a touching message to kick off production today.8comments
"Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go," Abrams wrote on Twitter. "Grateful for [Rian Johnson] and special thanks to George Lucas for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part."
Do you think Episode IX is getting a new release date? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.