Disney delays release of next 'Star Wars' to late 2017

LOS ANGELES, USA – The next and 8th episode in the Star Wars saga will premiere in December 2017, 7 months later than originally planned, Disney and Lucasfilm announced Wednesday, January 20.

"The move follows the extraordinary success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was the first Star Wars movie to premiere outside the traditional summer blockbuster window and smashed numerous records," the studios said in a statement on the website www.starwars.com. (READ: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ review: Something new, something old, something borrowed)

The 7th episode in the series, The Force Awakens, quickly surpassed the $760.5 million record set in 2009 by Avatar to become the top-grossing film ever in the North American market. (READ: New 'Star Wars' smashes box-office record)

The film has now grossed $858.9 million in North America and $1.865 billion worldwide.

The next episode will be directed by Rian Johnson, who helmed the 2012 sci-fi thriller Looper, starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.

It will feature the stars of The Force Awakens: Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. (READ: See how 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' stars reacted to new trailer)

The movie is in pre-production, with filming set to begin next month in London, the studios said. 

Disney and Lucasfilm plan to release a further installment, Episode 9 of the saga, on May 24, 2019. 

A spin-off, titled Rogue One, which will be set shortly before the events portrayed in the original 1977 Star Wars film, is set to reach screens on December 16. – Rappler.com