We have some good news and some bad news for Star Wars fans.
Naturally, we'll start with the bad news: Disney and Lucasfilm have announced that Star Wars: Episode VIII, which was originally scheduled for release in May 2017, will now debut on 15 December 2017. Although Disney had intended it to release during the traditional summer blockbuster window, the film's premiere date has been delayed by about 7 months. This is no bueno.
But here's the good news: Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars film to premiere outside that blockbuster window and ended up breaking numerous records, including becoming the highest grossing domestic release ever with over $861.3 million. The film was also the third biggest global release ever with $1.886 billion. Disney is obviously seeing $/£ signs here.
Reading between the lines, we understand that Disney wants to repeat the success of The Force Awakens, and it's first step at achieving that goal is to push back the release date of Episode VIII to the same month that The Force Awakens opened (December). That will also give Rian Johnson, who wrote and is directing the upcoming Star Wars film, more time to perfect the final cut.
Star Wars: Episode VIII is currently in preproduction and is scheduled to begin principal photography in London next month.