The earliest tracking for Solo: A Star Wars Story suggested it would break the Memorial Day Weekend record and earn anywhere from $150 to $170 million. Some even suggested the gross could go up to $180 million. Disney, which is known for its conservative estimates, predicted an OW BO of $130 to $150 million.
Well that didn’t happen. From Cinemark to Edwards, Solo underperformed. It did make $14.1 million Friday but the weekend projections point to the film making $101 to $114 million over the 4 day weekend. Its 3 day weekend total of $83 million is even lower than Justice League.
The numbers are worse overseas as Solo opened to just $65 million. Total gross is still up in the air, but sub $500 million looks like a certainty. With a budget of over $300 million due to reshoots plus an expensive marketing campaign, Solo will be lucky to break even.
How could this happen to a Star Wars film? Granted it isn’t part of the main arc and is a spinoff, but so was Rogue One and that film made over a billion dollars at the box office. So what went wrong?
Solo originally had a $125-$150 million budget, but just as filming was almost complete, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired and Ron Howard was brought in. With just 11 months to finish the movie, Howard re-shot almost 80% of the movie.
Solo didn’t become a Frankenstein hybrid like Justice League with one half Zack Snyder and the other Joss Whedon, but it did cause the budget to almost double. If the movie only cost $150 million, a $450 to $500 million gross wouldn’t be too bad. As it is, Solo is one of, if not the most expensive Star Wars film, and will be the least profitable.
Too Much Too Soon
Fans waited 16 years before getting another SW film after Return of the Jedi, and ten years passed between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens. When Disney bought Star Wars they decided to release a new film every year.
In the case of Solo, it came out just five months after the Last Jedi and for many fans it’s just a case of too much too soon. Part of the reason why Star Wars is so special is it feels like an event film, something that takes place every two years or so. Now it happens every year and feels like just another film.
One may argue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe releases 3 films a year, so why can’t it work for Star Wars? The difference is the MCU has more diverse characters and settings. You’ve got grounded heroes like Spider Man and Captain America, action comedy like Ant Man, the world of magic in Dr. Strange, space adventure in Guardians of the Galaxy and so on. With Star Wars, they’re still more dependent on the Skywalker clan and related stories, and you can tell this is so since the spin offs plan to focus on established characters.
Disney’s decision to move Solo to Memorial Day weekend was a gamble that didn’t pay off. Star Wars have always been December releases and Solo would have benefited from that. Instead they released the film during Deadpool 2’s second week and while Infinity War is still going strong.
Disney probably didn’t realize the Infinity War would explode the way it did, but still, releasing the film just two weeks into Deadpool 2 and after Infinity War was a mistake. The June 6 opening of Jurassic World 2 is guaranteed to cut off the legs of Solo, domestic and overseas as well.
Last Jedi Backlash
The Last Jedi showed the divide between the fans and the critics once again, with a 93% critic approval and 50% fan approval. Say what you will about the reliability of online polls,, but there’s no doubt many Star Wars fans disliked the Last Jedi and it probably took its toll on Solo.
Whether it’s the mission to Canto Bight, the political undertones, what happened to Luke etc there are genuine fans of the franchise that hated it. How much did they contribute to Solo’s poor box office performance? No way to tell for sure, but there was an effect.
An Average Film
Critical reviews have been generally positive, but the general consensus is that this is a fun but ultimately forgettable popcorn flick. It isn’t essential to the main SW story arc and fans probably feel the same way.
While Solo is the first Star Wars film to flop, it hardly puts a dent on Disney’s bottom line, as they do own the MCU as well. But this should serve as a wake up call that you can no longer just put Star Wars on the title and expect it to rake in the dough.