When Disney announced that Episode IX would release in May of 2019, making it the second of their Star Wars movies releasing in the summer after Han Solo, many people became confused. Why would Disney release an Avengers movie and a Star Wars movie in the same month two years in a row? It’s actually pretty simple if people took the time to look at a calendar and researched the box office history of Marvel movies.
With the exception of the first Avengers in 2012, which stayed at #1 in its fourth week, most Marvel Studios films drop out of the #1 spot by their third week. Disney owns Marvel and they’re well aware of this. By releasing a Marvel film in their traditional first weekend of May they’ll be #1 for the first three weeks of the month. Then right at the end of the month, in the Memorial Day weekend, Disney unleashes a Star Wars movie securing both the #1 and #2 spots at the box office and potentially maintaining the #1 box office spot for nearly two months. That’s a huge thing for Disney to brag about.
Looking at both Decembers, it actually works against Disney to release Star Wars up against their big films due to the close release dates. In 2018 they have Mary Poppins Returns scheduled for Christmas Day. Thats less than two weeks after when they would have released a Star Wars movie. And Star Wars fans may be aghast at this revelation, but to the Walt Disney Company, the Mary Poppins sequel is one of their most important releases in the last couple of decades. It’s a sequel to Walt Disney’s 1964 crowning achievement. Walt would pass away two years after the original Mary Poppins, so that movie stands as one of his greatest achievements on the big screen. As it shares some crossover in the family audience of Star Wars, Disney wouldn’t want the two to cannibalize each other at the box office.
December 2019 is even worse for Star Wars. Frozen 2 has been set for the last weekend of November, and Disney has positioned it there so it can soar across the December box office and leave everything else in its wake. Like with Mary Poppins, they don’t want to release a Star Wars movie (especially a major one like Episode XI) two weeks after Frozen 2 just so the family audience wouldn’t be there for Star Wars.
Going back to Marvel, that is also why Disney has wanted Star Wars at the end of May since The Force Awakens. Before JJ Abrams needed more time to remake A New Hope, the movie was internally scheduled for May 22, 2015. Disney moved Tomorrowland into that date when they had to push Star Wars to December. Before they needed more time to polish up and finish the script for The Last Jedi, it was officially scheduled to release on May 26, 2017. Just one day after the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars.
Ever since the Lucasfilm purchase Disney saw huge summer box office dollar signs for the company as a whole if they could kick off May with Marvel and then have Star Wars rekindle the momentum into June after Marvel fell out of #1. Aside from the tradition of having Star Wars in May, that’s the real reason they want to move the movies back and why they have absolutely no problem with Avengers and Star Wars in the same month.