Chinese fans, dressed as Star Wars character Stormtroopers, gesture as they arrive for the premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Shanghai on Dec. 27, 2015.
January 20, 2016 3:04 PM EST

The release date of the next Star Wars movie has been moved seven months and will now debut Dec. 15, 2017, Disney and Lucasfilm said Wednesday.

Star Wars: Episode VIII was initially set to be released in the summer of 2017. Filmmakers decided to postpone its release following the “extraordinary success” of The Force Awakens, which was the first in the franchise to premiere outside the traditional summer blockbuster window. The movie broke several records, including biggest domestic and global debuts of all time.

Episode VIII is currently in pre-production, officials said. Filming will begin in London next month, with Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams as one of its executive producers.

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