This week, Disney and Lucasfilm made big waves when they announced the release date for Star Wars: Episode VII. Fans finally know to mark their calendars and start waiting for December 18, 2015. In just over two years, we’ll all be sitting in a movie theater watching the beginning of a new Star Wars trilogy. Recently, Disney CEO Bob Iger explained why this is the release date they ultimately landed on for the much-anticipated new movie. They’re even expanding the brand in unexpected ways, with a new theme park attractions in the works.
In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Iger explained that an end of the year release date for Star Wars: Episode VII was more feasible than the franchise’s traditional Memorial Day Weekend. It all began when the writing duties shifted from Academy Award winning screenwriter Michael Arndt to the film’s director J.J. Abrams and its creative consultant Lawrence Kasdan. The change in writers would’ve created a rushed production in order to meet a summer 2015 release, so they went with a holiday season release instead.
Iger mentioned that December 18th was the same date James Cameron’s Avatar dropped in 2009, and he believes that that release date can give Episode VII some luck at the box office. Does Disney want Star Wars: Episode VII to be the highest grossing film of all-time, much like James Cameron’s 3D spectacle? Definitely. And there’s a good chance of that happening.
If you watch the behind-the-scenes documentary of The Phantom Menace, George Lucas and Rick McCallum seemed to be pushing the production team to get the Star Wars prequel in theaters on time on May 19, 1999. There’s a moment in the documentary when word hits that Cameron’s Titanic became the highest grossing movie of all-time, and Lucas appeared determined take over the top spot. Of course, that didn’t happen. The Phantom Menace ended up at the #14 spot on the all-time money list with $1 billion, while Titanic sits pretty at #2 with $2.1 billion worldwide.
For obvious reasons, Christmas 2015 will be a big movie going season. According to Iger, the holiday season is perfect for Star Wars because the film will largely cater to families with younger and older fans alike. Let’s hope Lucasfilm doesn’t trot out the Star Wars Holiday Special in 2015. Nobody wants to watch that.
Episode VII will be a new anchor for Disney and Lucasfilm, which is why it’s important for the companies to have the new film in theaters in 2015. The next trilogy will usher in a new era that will include branching the Star Wars brand into other properties, like theme parks. There has been heavy speculation that Star Wars will become a bigger part of the Magic Kingdom going forward. Iger confirmed that they’re exploring the possibilities of more attractions at Disney theme parks around the world.
Some of the developments might include a Speeder Bike Thrill Ride, Millennium Falcon walkthrough, Tatooine Cantina restaurant, kid-friendly version of Star Tours for shorter guests, and the Jedi Training Academy. The new park is expected to open in 2018.