Solo: A Star Wars Story flew a little low at the weekend box office, bringing in just $103 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend: a huge drop from early tracking, which predicted the movie bringing in $170 million or more.It also marks the lowest opening for any one of Disney’s Star Wars films, below even Rogue One, the franchise’s first standalone film.
Telling the origin story of the title smuggler, Solo should have been able to capitalize on the legacy of its hero to become a huge box office draw.But there are a lot of factors that contributed to Solo’s disappointing box office performance, so let’s take a look at the real reasons the film didn’t perform as well as expected.
Star Wars fatigue
Solo is the fourth film to come out of the new phase of the Star Wars franchise, and the first not to hit theaters over the December holidays.While this may have led to a diminished opening weekend, it also meant that the movie hit theaters just five months after the release of The Last Jedi, marking the shortest window between the release of two Star Wars films to date.
This may have contributed to some franchise fatigue.While the trilogy films have build-up to bring fans in no matter when they come out, the standalone films have to find a way to make themselves seem like must-see entertainment.Rogue One came out a full year after the last Star Wars film, but for Solo, it may have been hard to drum up interest so close to the prior film’s release.
A new take
Alden Ehrenreich landed the difficult task of trying to live up to Harrison Ford’s iconic portrayal of Han Solo, and although some people have praised his performance, others don’t think he quite lives up to his predecessor.Part of the problem could be the script, which shows off a much more optimistic version of Han than the one audiences came to know and love in the original trilogy.
In the role, Ehrenreich came across as charming and fun, but also different from Ford’s version of the character.While it was probably smart for the actor not to try to do a direct impression, it still might give some fans pause to see Han before the weight of the galaxy got him down.
Good press is key to a movie’s success, and Solo was plagued by negative rumors after a rocky production, which included the firing of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.Lord and Miller were said to have encouraged more improvisation and a different tone than the company wanted for the movie, so they were replaced by Ron Howard.
Even though Howard is a talented replacement, the behind-the-scenes turmoil associated with the picture may have left a lot of fans skeptical about the finished product.And while reviews for the film were mostly positive, they weren’t as overwhelmingly favorable as its predecessors.Even some critics who said the film was entertaining also said it covered old ground and didn’t bring anything new or different to the franchise.Since word of mouth is essential for any movie to succeed, Solo’s ground campaign might’ve been damaged by the initial bad buzz and ho-hum critical reception.
Memorial Day weekend used to be the reliable start of the summer box office, but its grosses have been in a downward spiral in recent years.The last time the weekend offered up a $100 million-plus opener was in 2014, with X-Men: Days of Future Past.More recent offerings like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Baywatch, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Tomorrowland disappointed in the same release time period.
While big movies like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and The Incredibles 2 are likely to save this summer from being a complete disaster, Solo was stuck in a period that’s been growing consistently worse in recent years, making it the summer’s first big flop.
Most studios won’t dare to challenge a Star Wars movie, which is why it was the only major release during its opening weekend.However, the film still faced competition from the second weekend of Deadpool 2 and the fifth weekend of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.Deadpool 2 was initially set to come out the weekend after Solo, but Fox later moved the release so that it hit theaters earlier.
And even though Infinity War has been out for weeks, it’s still a box office draw.Solo might’ve managed to earn the top spot at the box office on opening weekend, but the ticket booth was still crowded with other options that might’ve eaten away at its profits.
While overseas markets have been known to save some movies from obscurity, Solo doesn’t seem to be resonating with international audiences.The film took in just $68 million in the international markets after releasing in all major territories except Japan.With an already large budget pushed higher by the movie’s reshoots, international profits were important for Solo, but it doesn’t look like the film will be able to turn there for relief if it continues to flop domestically.What does the movie’s lackluster performance mean for future Star Wars spinoffs?