It looks like being an exciting festive period for film lovers as it’s been announced that Star Wars Episode VII will now hit cinemas in December 2015.

JJ Abrams’ much-hyped new Star Wars film was originally set for summer 2015, but will now debut on 18 December worldwide, providing an early Christmas present for fans around the world.

The announcement ends speculation that the film will miss its planned 2015 release but suggests recent changes in writing personnel may have fuelled delays.

“We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday film-going season but also ensure our extraordinary film-making team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,” said Disney chairman Alan Horn.

The studio announced last month that Abrams was taking over screenwriting duties himself, working with the co-writer of 1980s The Empire Strikes Back, Lawrence Kasdan. First drafts of the screenplay for Episode VII were written by Tory Story 3’s Oscar-winning Michael Arndt, but it is not clear how much of his work will remain when the film shoots early next year in London.

“It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be,” Abrams told Deadline yesterday in the wake of the release date announcement. “Working with Larry Kasdan, especially on a Star Wars movie is kind of unbeatable.”

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens, will now debut in the pre-Christmas period which has previously brought success for films such as Avatar, Lord of the Rings and Titanic.

It also means Disney can look forward to a huge rush for Star Wars related gift items in the run-up to Christmas, which will no doubt find themselves in the stockings and under the Christmas trees of many movie fans on December 25th.

Disney bought the rights to Star Wars for $4.05bn in October last year and a  new trilogy is planned, as well as a series of spinoff “origins” movies, which could focus on iconic characters from earlier films such as Yoda, Han Solo and Boba Fett.