Entertainment & Arts

Star Wars: Episode VIII is delayed until December 2017

A still from Star Wars: The Force Awakens Image copyright Disney/Lucasfilm

The release of the next Star Wars film has been delayed until the end of 2017, Disney has announced.

Star Wars: Episode VIII was due to go on global release in May 2017 but instead will not be aired until the following December.

It will follow The Force Awakens, which is still showing and has become the biggest-grossing film in US history.

In the five weeks since its release, it has earned $861m (£607m) in the US and $1.88bn globally.

Disney did not say why the film had been delayed until 15 December 2017, but there had been speculation that the script was being rewritten.

Production is set to begin next month at Pinewood Studios, west of London.

The new release date means it could come up against another long-awaited blockbuster, Avatar 2, which is set for Christmas 2017 but could be further delayed.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Daisy Ridley stars as Rey in the latest film

Despite the bad news concerning the postponement, Star Wars fans have the consolation of the spin-off Rogue One, which is due out in December this year.

The film, starring Felicity Jones, is set in the Star Wars universe, but with new characters.

Disney will be releasing the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film in May 2017 in the slot that would have been occupied by Episode VIII.

Daisy Ridley, who stars as Rey in the revived Star Wars franchise, will also be teaming up with director JJ Abrams at the Oscar Wilde awards on 25 February.

Ridley is to be honoured at the ceremony as she has Irish ancestry. She also shot a scene of The Force Awakens on Skellig Michael, off the west coast of Ireland.

Abrams hosts the event, which has been held at his Bad Robot production company in Santa Monica in recent years.

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