I got a lot of shit from hardcore, neurologically challenged Star Wars fans after I reported that there was turmoil behind the scenes of Episode VII when it came to the film's release date. When Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced a new trilogy of movies, they staked a date: 2015. But in the time since then development on the film became complicated, as evidenced by the recent leaving of Michael Arndt. I had heard that Disney was looking at a December 2015 berth for the film, not only because they have a crowded summer (see: The Avengers: Age of Ultron) but because the film just wouldn't be ready in time for a traditional May slot.
A lot of Star Wars fans wanted my head for reporting that, saying I was lying. Now The Hollywood Reporter has backed all of this up, saying that Kathleen Kennedy went to Disney requesting a 2016 release date... which she has been denied. According to THR Kennedy is the one who wants 2016 while Abrams wants 2015; I've heard that Abrams was unsure of the schedule when he signed up and that he had been looking to push to 2016 as well, but the Hollywood Reporter says otherwise. Whatever the truth is, we're going to have to wait for the behind the scenes book to find out.
In the meantime this is bad, bad, bad news for people hoping Episode VII will be good. The Hollywood Reporter reiterates that the script is not finished - not even close. Nobody has given an exact release date for the film yet, but the article does say that Disney's Bob Iger wants it for the summer of 2015, a date that I think is pushing it far too much. Could the movie still turn out well? Sure. Is this the optimal way to make a movie? Not at all.
Why is Iger so hot for 2015? Because he has to answer to stockholders. He doesn't really care if the movie is good - the Prequel Trilogy proved Star Wars can weather bad film after bad film - he cares about making the dates that he promised the people whose money props up Disney. Because Disney has been very vocal about a Star Wars movie in 2015, their stock could take a serious hit if they don't deliver. The purchase of Lucasfilm was a big deal, and it was an expensive, debt-heavy move that needs to be paid off. Getting a movie in theaters summer 2015 would be good for the stockholders and good for the merch divisions, which would have months to build to the profitable holiday glut. Releasing in December makes selling the toys a different game.
This is chicken being played on high levels with lots of money and the hopes of many, many stunted geeks on the line. At this point my Star Wars apathy is turning into active dislike - helped along by people like the Star Wars fan who threatened to break into my home and rape my family because of my reporting on the matter - and I'm almost rooting for Iger to not blink and crash this spaceship. I mean, I'd prefer to have my love for Star Wars - crippled since the Prequels - rekindled, but at this point it seems like everything is aligned against that happening.