Next year will see another Star Wars holiday special! 

Well, not the much maligned and bizarre Star Wars Holiday Special CBS aired once in 1978, since denounced by George Lucas (and basically anyone who has ever seen it). But it will be a Star Wars Christmas again in 2017. Disney has moved the release date of Star Wars: Episode VIII to Dec. 15, 2017, pushed back from the previously scheduled May 26, 2017 debut. The three original Star Wars films and the prequel trilogy that followed were all released theatrically in May. 

Last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first to break with tradition. Following the massive success of J.J. Abrams franchise restart, the first Star Wars film to hit theaters following Walt Disney Studios’ multibillion dollar acquisition of Lucasfilm set new records domestically and worldwide. At present, The Force Awakens has collected $861 million in North America and $1.88 billion around the globe, making it the third biggest global release ever behind James Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic

Episode VIII is in preproduction with filming set to begin in London next month. The second installment in the new trilogy will be directed by Rian Johnson, who awed cinephiles with his indie debut, Brick, in 2005. Johnson also wrote and directed The Brothers Bloom (with Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s sci-fi time travel thriller Looper, which also starred Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. He also directed a few episodes of Breaking Bad and one episode of the short lived, but critically acclaimed, FX TV series Terriers. Johnson has screenplay and story credits on Star Wars: Episode VIII and 2019’s Episode IX

Plot details have predictably been kept tightly guarded. Episode VIII will certainly follow on newly introduced The Force Awakens characters Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) as they continue to grapple with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. 

Given the [SPOILER ALERT] ending of the previous installment, we can expect to see a much bigger role for Mark Hamill as self-exiled Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. 

Benicio Del Toro joins the Star Wars universe as a yet to be specified villain. What’s his involvement with Supreme Leader Snoke? Fan speculation has run rampant about the mysterious puppet master of the Knights Of Ren, played by motion capture master Andy Serkis in The Force Awakens. Is Snoke Darth Vader? Is he be Darth Plagueis, the Sith Lord who Darth Sidious said could “create life” and “cheat death” in a pivotal scene in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith? A brand new character? 

A few rumors suggest the Episode VIII release date was pushed back to give Johnson more time to retool his script to focus more on the fan favorite characters introduced in The Force Awakens. The world won’t have to wait too long to get another Star Wars movie fix, though. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first in a series of standalone movies planned by Disney/Lucasfilm, debuts Dec. 16 of this year. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla), Rogue One stars Felicity Jones, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk. It takes place between Episodes III and IV, as the Rebels steal the plans for the first Death Star. 

Star Wars Episode VIII will be produced by franchise boss Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman, with executive producer credit going to Abrams, Tom Karnowski, and Jason McGatlin. With Episode VIII moving to December, Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales moves into its previous May 26, 2017 release date. 

We can’t wait to see what Pierce The Veil’s Tony Perry thinks about all of this Star Wars news! 

What's your theory about Supreme Leader Snoke?