The first six Star Wars films were all released in the month of May, an unofficial tradition that eventually led to May 4th being named Star Wars day, an unofficial holiday. Of course saying May the Fourth be with you is also very ‘punny’ which may have something to do with it.
Either way, as of late it’s December that’s been the month of choice for the Star Wars franchise. Disney moved the release of The Force Awakens back over six months from May to the week before Christmas of 2015, to give director JJ Abrams more time to complete the film. Being released the week before Christmas was a strategy James Cameron used to propel both Titanic and Avatar to the two highest grossing films of all time! The Force Awakens was just as fortunate, usurping both James Cameron juggernauts domestically and falling short of just Avatar in Box Office gross globally.
In 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which is still in theaters, has become a huge holiday hit as well grossing almost $780 million worldwide on its way to becoming a sure fire member of the Billion Dollar Box Office Club! A huge success for Disney considering the gamble they took in making the first Star Wars ‘spin-off’ and not relying on the story of the episodic saga. The yet to be official titled Episode VIII was also moved to the holiday season of 2017 based on the success of The Force Awakens as a new holiday Star Wars tradition is now born. Let’s face it, Star Wars makes sense in December the merchandising gluttony goes hand in hand with the Holidays and there is no better franchise to serve as a end of year grand finale than Star Wars.
Now it seems that the Han Solo standalone film starring Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover and Emilia Clark, originally slated for May 2018, has also been pushed back to the holidays as well. Initially to be released after Episode VIII in the quickest turnaround of theatrical releases in the history of the Star Wars franchise (just five months). Making Star Wars, a very reputable Star Wars news website has reported that sources within Lucasfilm have told them the Han Solo film is being pushed back to December 13, 2018. Is this solely a business decision or is this a strategy to give directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the LEGO movie) more time to make a quality film? Also, based on the much publicized reshooting for Rogue One, delaying the film by a several months could give the directors more time to fix any issues to the Han Solo movie if needed.
It should be noted that rumors of Episode VIII being pushed back up to May of 2017 have been mentioned but it’s doubtful that Disney would make such a drastic change to their schedule only months in advance. As it now seems however, Disney is content with making Star Wars an annual holiday family tradition.