Star Wars: The Last Jedi is here, and if you're a hardcore fan, you've probably already seen it once and have tickets to go again tomorrow. But now that the movie is here, there's a long wait until the next one arrives. J.J. Abrams hasn't even started working on it yet. (Pre-production begins in February.) So, when will Star Wars: Episode IX come out? What do we know about it? And will we get the Solo standalone film first?
First things first, the Solo standalone film comes out before Episode IX. But this is where the schedule is going to get a bit weird and wonky. For those who are too young to remember when the original trilogy came out, or even the prequel trilogy in the early 2000s, you might be surprised to learn that Star Wars movies were not originally Christmas films. They, like the original blockbuster, Jaws, were summer fare, and it was the Star Wars films that helped cement Memorial Day as the opening weekend of the summer blockbuster season.
That The Force Awakens and Rogue One were December releases was merely an accident of scheduling. Lucasfilm had been planning, onxee they established these movies, to move back to the original May 23-24-25-26 spot in the calendar year where they used to reign supreme. That's why Solo: A Star Wars Story is actually coming in six month's time, on May 25, 2018, not in December.
This is also why Episode IX's original release day at the top of the Google search when you ask states that the final film of the trilogy is coming May 24, 2019.
That date is wrong.
Episode IX will not come out on May 24, 2019. The change in directors when Kathleen Kennedy fired Colin Trevarrow is the reason why. With Rian Johnson already in talks at that point to be booked to move onto a whole brand new Skywalker-less trilogy, they fell back on J.J. Abrams, who had directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The problem was Abrams' first space in his schedule to start work wasn't until this February. With a May release date, that would have only given him a bit more than a year to pull it together. That's not much time, especially when you consider the sheer amount of CGI and post-production involved.
So Disney and Lucasfilm did the only practical thing. They took whatever Disney flick was being released the week of December where Episodes VII and VIII had come out and swapped them around. Star Wars: Episode IX will now come out exactly where fans are expecting it to: December 20, 2019.
Now, this is a bit of a problem, both for Solo and going forward. By falling back six months to a date that fans wouldn't even think twice about, Lucasfilm is basically committing to the Christmas domination season. That means Solo, which has nothing to be switched out with in December of 2018, is coming out in a completely different spot from everything else, when it's a movie with a lot of bad press to begin with.
It also means that fans will now have four out of five years with Star Wars-as-a-Christmas-movie tradition, making it even harder for Lucasfilm to move back to Memorial Day. (Why they want to do that at all is beyond me, it's a crowded enough landscape to begin with. Christmas is empty of blockbusters. Stay there.)
We'll have to see what Lucasfilm decides after this trilogy is done to do about this dilemma. But, until then, we have two years until Episode IX comes to theaters, so settle in and wait.