When the news hit yesterday that “Star Wars Episode VII” was getting a new release date, it raised a lot of questions. Disney tried to sweep away any concerns when they said it was to take advantage of the holiday weekend, the same way that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” did when it broke the national box office record. However, there was more to the story, as many feared. Newsarama reported on Thursday that the script is being re-written, which explains the new release date.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered the previous U.S. box office record and is still running strong. However, it will not likely break the worldwide record held by “Avatar” after the movie opened to low numbers in China, the second largest market in the world. That makes the new date even more curious, and likely a very hotly debated battle will take place in 2017.
Originally scheduled to open in May 2017, the new release date is Dec. 15, 2017. While “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” destroyed all competition last Christmas, the new date has two very strong competitors. The first is Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” which is based on a very popular book. The second is the one that makes this move very interesting. “Avatar 2” will also hit that month, and the sequels to two of the biggest movies ever will collide head-to-head.
With the immense success of not only the new “Star Wars” movie, but also the trio of new leads, the re-writing is not to make major changes to the story, but to increase the screen time of the popular new cast members, Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn, and Oscar Isaac’s Poe. Interestingly, in the original script for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Poe actually died early in the movie.
Rian Johnson (“Brick,” “Looper”) is set to take over the directorial role for the eighth “Star Wars” movie and producer J.J. Abrams has no fears about the script or the movie. “Rian has asked for a couple of things here and there that he needs for his story,” Abrams said. “He is an incredibly accomplished filmmaker and an incredibly strong writer. So the story he told took what we were doing and went in the direction that he felt was best but that is very much in line with what we were thinking as well.”
Johnson will also be introducing some new characters to the “Star Wars” movie universe. Benicio Del Toro is joining the cast, and should have a major role. Also getting a bigger role is Captain Phasma (Gwendolyn Christie), who will become a major villain in the franchise as well.