Almost immediately after yesterday's announcement that J.J. Abrams would be returning to the Star Wars franchise to finish out the current trilogy, word also came down that the film would be bumped from its Memorial Day release date in 2019 into a late December release. This isn't totally surprising since it sounds like they'll be starting more or less from scratch now that original Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow is gone.
StarWars.com posted an official announcement yesterday that confirmed the film is moving from a May 2019 release date to a December 20, 2019 release date. Disney then announced shortly thereafter that their live-action, Guy Ritchie-directed, Will Smith-starring remake of Aladdin would take Episode IX's old May 24, 2019 slot. The Han Solo flick is holding firm to its May 25, 2018 release date as of now, despite its deeply troubled production. This is obviously in an effort to release a Star Wars film on the 41st anniversary of the original.
If you view the Disney-produced Star Wars movies through the gaze of the Harry Potter franchise—they're very similar in a lot of ways—it's easy to see Lucasfilm's formula. With Harry Potter, Warner Brothers entrusted one producer (David Heyman) to see things through from beginning to end, and Lucasfilm is doing the same with Kathleen Kennedy. The directors have proven to be equally expendable, which begs the question of how you line up the directors of the two franchises.
I think Rian Johnson will be the Alfonso Cuaron (Prisoner of Azkaban) of the bunch. Great director on his way to better things that stopped by to play in the sandbox and gave a unique and original looking entry that also feels right in line with the rest of the movies. Ron Howard is likely equivalent to Mike Newell (Goblet of Fire), journeyman director who stepped in to fix a troubled film in the saga. J.J. Abrams is probably Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Potter flicks. He set the tone for better or worse, established a lot of the rules of the post-Disney timeline, but left things vague enough to be filled in by others.
Now we diverge though as Abrams is back to finish the trilogy, which he couldn't do for his Star Trek reboot, and I think he's got a chip on his shoulder. As much as I know Kathleen Kennedy is in love with him and he probably buys into a lot of his own hype, I think he's out to prove that he can indeed do more than ape better movies from the franchise's past. He's gotten hit with this criticism twice now, for Into Darkness and The Force Awakens, and part of me wants to believe that he's got something to prove to the haters out there and show that he's got more to contribute than lovingly and lavishly made fan films.
The cynical part of me says, brace for Ewoks. Star Wars Episode IX hits theaters late, on December 20, 2019.
Header image via StarWars.com