Star Wars
Fans will have to wait till December 2017 for the next instalment in the global franchiseDisney/ Lucasfilm

Disney has announced it has postponed the release of the next instalment of Star Wars. Episode VIII will now hit cinemas on 15 December 2017, seven months later than its anticipated debut date of 26 May 2017.

While the company did not offer a specific reason for the delay, it is thought that writer-director Rian Johnson is reworking the script.

The original slated May release date has now been used for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie 'Dead Men Tell No Tales', bringing it forward from July. The new release date looks as if it's been lined up to battle with James Cameron's long-awaited sequel – Avatar 2, that will be in cinemas that Christmas.

Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is written and will be directed by Rian Johnson, is currently in pre-production with principal photography set to start in London next month. It is expected to continue the tale of new characters Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Franchise veterans Carrie Fisher (General Leia) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) also are expected to return for the latest instalment in the film franchise.

While Hollywood blockbusters have traditionally benefited from summer releases, the recent success of The Force Awakens, which was released worldwide last month, has prompted a change of approach. The Force Awakens is the third-biggest global release in history, bringing in $1.88bn (£1.32bn) at the box office to date.

In the meantime, Star Wars spin-off Rogue One, a stand-alone story with new characters is to be released this December.