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In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Iger called "Episode VII" "one of the most important films that we're working on right now," and said the later date was necessary due to the recent departure of original screenwriter Michael Arndt, and his ultimate replacement with director J.J. Abrams and consultant Lawrence Kasdan.
Though Iger didn't comment on this particular aspect of the story, it had been rumored that producer Kathleen Kennedy also pleaded with the studio for a 2016 release date to give the film more time to regroup, but was denied. It seems a December release was a fair compromise for both parties.
"One of the things that was very important to us is that we give the creative team, J.J. Abrams and his writing team, the time to design, write and produce the film so that we can optimize quality, so they can create a great film," Iger said. "At one point we considered the summer of 2015, but it felt like, particularly with some changes we made in the writing team, that that was going to create a bit of a rush, and we didn't think that was optimal, for obvious reasons."
Iger also noted that "Episode VII"'s Christmastime release date shares the same slot as "Avatar," the highest-grossing film of all time, and the CEO hoped that that coincidence would "bring some good luck" to the movie.
"Christmas is a good time, we think, for a film like 'Star Wars', which will have obvious interest from young people and old people alike, from everyone," Iger added.
"Episode VII" will be the first "Star Wars" film ever not to be released in May. Here's hoping Iger's strategy pays off.