Disney Delays Star Wars VIII... to Avatar 2's Opening Month

Edited: January 21, 2016, 10:21 AM

The Walt Disney Co. announced yesterday that it is pushing back the release date for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, from May 26, 2017 to Dec. 15, 2017. That puts Chapter VIII's release date within two weeks of the planned Dec. 25 opening for Avatar 2 - a Fox franchise to which Disney is now tied at the hip, thanks to its new Pandora: The World of Avatar land, which opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom next year.

The next Pirates of the Caribbean movie is moving up from July to take Star Wars' old release date. The move also means that fans will get a new Star Wars movie in three consecutive Decembers, with Force Awakens last year, Rogue One this year, and Chapter VIII next year.

But what will Fox and James Cameron think about Disney moving the next Star Wars so close to Avatar's opening? Disney already got into a public fight with another prominent director, Quentin Tarantino, over the release date for Force Awakens. Industry chatter said that Disney used its clout to prevent Taratino from running The Hateful Eight in the widescreen Cinerama Dome in Hollywood during the entire holiday season, threatening to pull Force Awakens from the Arclight chain if Star Wars didn't have the screen through the season.

Disney will need a strong publicity push to launch its Avatar land, given the widespread skepticism toward the project in the fan community. (Personally, I think that skepticism is unwarranted, based on what I have seen of the project. And I've seen a lot.) Cameron's participation would be invaluable to help Disney publicize the land, so the company can't afford to offend its partner in the months leading up to the debut.

Will Fox move the release date for Avatar? Will both films go ahead in December 2017, crowding out every other film from screens around the world that month? Did Bob Iger just send a very large fruit basket to Jim Cameron's home? Questions, questions, questions....

Replies (8)

Edited: January 21, 2016, 10:55 AM

2 weeks is enough lead time for Star Wars 8 to make its money, but it will take away some hype from Avatar 2. Never underestimate James Cameron. He will anticipate the competition and blow everyone out of the way. Avatar 2 will demand more Imax theaters. This will impact Star Wars for Disney will try to hold on to its theaters for as long as possible. I don't think Fox will move its release date on December 25. It would actually be better for Disney to move its release date a week earlier like December 8th, get it? Star Wars 8 on December 8th. Why should only Taratino reference the Hateful Eight? Eight is actually a good luck number for the Chinese. Eight in Chinese rhymes loosely with the word (to bring forth) that implies prosperity.

January 21, 2016, 11:15 AM

I would like to see Cameron move up his release date - get the ball rolling earlier in the year. It would be nice if his movie would come out around the same time as the Pandora expansion opens at DAK (mid 2017 if we are lucky?).

January 21, 2016, 12:01 PM

Not a shocking move considering how much money Episode VII made and probably the better one to avoid competing with Marvel's slate that year and in order to make sure there's enough time for a quality movie. The real question though is whether or not Avatar's going to stick to that date. Mr. Cameron has repeatedly pushed back his Avatar sequels time and time again to the point where 2017 is going to be infeasible. I'm going to bet that he'll delay Avatar 2 to at least December 2018, which should avoid competition from any franchise at the moment.

January 21, 2016, 12:27 PM

I have to wait longer :(

January 21, 2016, 1:16 PM

Rumours I've heard are that Avatar isn't far enough advanced in its production to make that date and is. expected to delay. Given the potential conflict (also with a Steven Spielberg film due the same date) I'm wondering if they chatted behind closed doors to their people.

Pissing off Tarantino is not really an issue for Disney (if what Tarantino thinks happened is true), but Spielberg and Cameron are Disney collaborators and I'd expect they'd want to keep a cordial relationship.

January 21, 2016, 5:54 PM

When I heard about the push back for Star Wars the first thing I thought of was Avatar and how this will affect Disney. I think Disney realized with Episode 7 that they have far less competition to deal with than with a summer release. Plus there’s the dead time in January and February where they can make even more money with the films. I bet Avatar moves its release date, but it won’t be because of Star Wars and it won't be for a few weeks later. Cameron hasn’t started shooting it yet and from various sources it has been said he is still working on the script. So the first one was released in 2009 and now the sequel will possibly not come out until 8 or 9 years later? This article is a year old, but I’ll leave it right here:


January 21, 2016, 7:48 PM

And the other shoe drops.

I'm guessing Disney knew about this before it moved Star Wars.

Edited: January 22, 2016, 8:20 AM

Its offical, Avatar 2 will not make its Christmas 2017 release date.


Surprise, surprise. I wonder why?

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