The news for a while seemed to be that Star Wars: Episode VII would be a December 2015 release, breaking the May tradition that’s stood since the original film fell behind schedule and had to be bumped from December 1976 to May 1977. In fact, there were also some rumors circulating that, be it due to casting difficulties or other delays, the newest sequel might already be looking at a 2016 release.
Let’s put a pin in that.
Website Jedi News has gotten hold of a brochure from Disney which (and they’re calling this confirmed fact) was distributed to attendees of the European Brand Licensing Show. Here’s a copy of the part which pertains to all things Star Wars:
You’ll notice on the right is a “Spring/Summer 2015” release window for Star Wars: Episode VII. That’s not a Christmas release. It’s also not definitively May, but it’s hard to imagine Lucasfilm and Disney going with any other month if a date sometime in May can be hit.
Disney’s other major 2015 tentpole, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is currently scheduled to release May 1. After the success of The Avengers and the hype that’s already building around Joss Whedon’s sequel, you can bet Disney doesn’t want to do anything to derail a long and lucrative box office run. That means that any but the last weekend in May is definitely out of the question, and even that could be pushing it.
If Star Wars departs from May, June looks pretty open, although films like Jurassic World and Assassin’s Creed could leech some of the same target audience. Also of concern is the run it would have before Batman vs. Superman premiers in mid July. Disney is already gunning for that audience by sending out Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man just a couple weeks later, but this creates the Age of Ultron problem all over again unless Star Wars comes out mid- to late-August, where they then begin to run up against the end of the Summer push.
All that is to say that Star Wars fans the world over will certainly be glad to see J.J. Abrams’s effort a few months earlier, but it’s unclear at this moment exactly when that would be. Production is still scheduled to start in January as far as we know, and we’re betting we’ll get an exact release date closer to then, and probably (if we were betting) after a main cast announcement.