Let me be the first to say the following about Solo: A Star Wars Story’s box office: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Ah, classic movie quote.
[Leaves to check the rest of the internet]
Son of a bitch! Everyone’s already made that joke? Really? Fine, then let me say this about Solo: A Star Wars Story’s box office: “Rubber baby buggie bumpers!” That’s right – y’all are quoting A New Hope. Well, I just quoted Last Action Hero! Top that, internet.
Wait. What was I talking about?
Oh, right. Right, right, right. So, as of this writing at both the domestic and worldwide box office Solo’s, um, what’s the nice way of putting it – it’s tanking. Crashing. Bombing. A real belly flop. I mean, there’s the Hindenburg, there’s Black Monday, and then there’s Solo’s box office. Historically bad, is what I’m saying. Everyone at LucasFilm and Disney who worked on Solo, either on the actual production or marketing and distribution end, has brought great dishonor to their family for their association with a flop of such epic proportions….
What the shit! $101 million still sounds like a lot of money to me. That registers as one of the top 10 openings in Memorial Day history, unadjusted for inflation, of course. So, why is the internet crying foul?
-Because Solo was supposed to make $150 million, according to pre-release tracking.
-Because even though Disney isn’t releasing an official production budget it’s thought the reshoots pushed the budget to around $250 million, and they likely spent at least another $100 million on marketing.
-Because this is a 25% decrease from Disney’s prior low-water mark for Star Wars opening weekends, specifically Rogue One’s $155m two years ago.
-Because in addition to the domestic underperformance Solo is also falling flat internationally, taking in a dismal $65 million from pretty much everywhere other than Japan for a global launch of just $148.3 million.
-Because it truly is bombing in China with an opening weekend of $10.1m. Granted, China has never warmed to Star Wars, but the second biggest film market in the world is flat out rejecting Solo, delivering it an opening 69% lower than Last Jedi’s and 71% below Rogue One’s. The box office security blanket that is China clearly isn’t going to save Solo.
-Because, as a movie, Solo just isn’t good enough. Read my review.
We’ve seen this story play out countless times by now. Whenever a film becomes rather well-known as a troubled production – looking at you, Suicide Squad – there’s extra attention paid to the box office. We all know the studio paid out the ass just get the damn film finished and out on time which pushes the break-even point even higher and naturally increases the chances of public failure. Half the time, a Titanic happens and all of the pre-release pessimism and hand wringing is for naught. The other half of the time, a box office car crash takes place and we can’t look away.
In Solo’s case, we’ve seen enough to know that a movie carrying a $250m budget needs to do a heck of a lot better than $101m on its opening weekend, especially when it comes from a franchise which has always run stronger domestically than internationally. As Forbes currently forecasts, “If Solo plays like a “normal” Memorial Day release, after this debut we’re looking at a final domestic total of around $200-$225m. So, yes, considering the additional expenses incurred by the reshoots and the likely lack of overseas rescue that would make for a $700m global cume, tops and only if they’re really lucky, meaning the odds are pretty grim for this Star Wars story.”
Remember, Suicide Squad carried an official production budget of $175m and was said to need to hit $750m-$800m worldwide just to break even, which it almost did, finishing at $746m. Well, Solo cost quite a bit more, and it’s on pace to make even less than Suicide Squad. Ruh-roh.
We’ve known this was coming, though. A production insider told ScreenGreek back in December: “Disney is bracing themselves for the Han Solo movie to bomb. They were worried about it before all The Last Jedi controversy, but now they’re essentially writing Solo off. The lead actor, Alden Ehrenreich, can’t act, and they had a dialogue coach on hand for all of his scenes. On top of that, the script is unworkable. It’s going to be a car crash.”
As always, such anonymous insider accounts should be met with a healthy degree of skepticism, but rumors like that paired with Disney’s curiously restrained Solo marketing definitely gave the impression of a studio looking to make the best of a bad situation instead of actually pushing something it believed in. The rest of the industry saw that and smelled blood in the water, thus Deadpool 2 moving to the week before Solo. The other competitors weren’t crazy enough to challenge both Deadpool 2 AND Solo, which is why Solo is the only new wide releae this weekend. The option was always there for Disney to just push Solo back to Christmas and abandon its always-boneheaded idea to open a new Star Wars movie just 5 months after the last (very controversial) one, but Disney opted to stick with Mary Poppins Returns as its big Christmas push, leaving Solo to sink or swim in a crowded market.
Beyond that, Solo has always faced an uphill battle, as Forbes explained:
The idea of a young Han Solo movie was always both not-terribly exciting to fans and counterintuitive to the promise of Walt Disney making new Star Wars movies and especially stand-alone Star Wars spin-offs. The idea was for new/interesting directors to play in the Star Wars sandbox, not for an elder statesmen director like (all due respect) Ron Howard to direct a Han Solo prequel flick. Fair or not, the firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller dampened much of what enthusiasm remained for this cynical/irrelevant project. Even though it’s a pretty good movie, the reviews were merely okay and it wasn’t an event. It was surrounded by genuine event movies, including a Disney giant (Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2) on each side.
Circling back to the question I posed in the title of this article, how low is too low for Solo? Everything it’s currently doing and will most likely continue to do is significantly too low, given its budget. Every Disney Star Wars movie to this point has cracked a billion worldwide. Solo’s instead looking at Suicide Squad numbers as an absolute best-case scenario, and over-quoted or not that should give everyone a bad feeling about this.