2016 and 2017 are about to feel really, really long. In a press release sent out Wednesday by Walt Disney Studios Publicity, the release date for Star Wars: Episode VIII has been delayed from May 26, 2017 to December 15, 2017. Although no particular explanation was given for the delay, if a story from the most recent episode of Meet the Movie Press is to be believed, there are some rewrites in the works.
In this episode of Meet the Movie Press, The Wrap’s Jeff Sneider reports that Rian Johnson will be doing a minor rewrite of the Episode VIII script to minimize two new women characters and focus more on developing Rey, Finn, and Poe. There have been rumors for a while now regarding the two new characters, including speculation that they will be played by actresses like Bel Powley, Gina Rodriguez, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (although none of these actresses have been announced or confirmed). Sneider says that the reason Johnson is making those roles smaller is because fans were so taken with Rey, Finn, and Poe that they want to spend more time with those characters and less time introducing new ones.
Although no one would argue with favoring development of the current three main characters over introducing new ones (especially considering that we have almost no backstory yet on any of the three), this rewrite begs the question: how important were these two new women characters supposed to be? Considering that two of the three rumored actresses are British, could one of these characters be Rey’s mother? And why would anyone be against introducing some additional strong women to the Star Wars universe?
The answers to these questions remain to be seen until press leading up to the December 2017 release. With this move, we’ll be getting a new Star Wars movie three Decembers in a row: The Force Awakens in 2015, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016, and Star Wars: Episode VIII in 2017. And interestingly, the move of Episode VIII’s release date will also set the stage for a major box office battle of the titans when it goes up against James Cameron’s Avatar 2, which opens December 25, 2017.
Until then, all we can do is speculate, theorize…and wait. Sigh.