Frank Pallota over at CNN.com notes that the Memorial Day release of Solo: A Star Wars Story hasn’t exactly been a box office juggernaut:
Solo: A Star Wars Story disappoints at the box office
According to the article, the movie drew in approximately $101 million, a decent amount but far lower than the hoped for $150+ million that was originally estimated. Interestingly, over at Box Office Mojo they list the movie’s three day weekend take at a lower $83 million, but I’m not certain if their estimate does not take into account today’s date (it is Memorial Day, after all) and thus is a lower amount.
Regardless, the movie hasn’t done all that well, especially given its a Star Wars movie and, equally oddly, the reviews for it were generally positive.
Count me, though, among those who isn’t terribly surprised.
No, I’m not some kind of movie release guru or have psychic powers (how I wish!), it just seemed there were many factors working against the movie almost from the get-go.
To begin, the movie’s troubled production -it was originally being directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street) but they clashed with the powers that be at Disney and were essentially fired from the production and replaced, hastily, with Ron Howard. Rumor had it that the movie was nearly done with its principle photography by that point. There was also word that actor Alden Ehrenreich wasn’t doing all that well stepping into Harrison Ford’s shoes and was given acting lessons while the movie was filming (I don’t know if I believe this… seems a particularly nasty rumor and smells a bit like someone who has a real beef with the actor trying to hit him where it hurts).
In some ways, that element reminded me of what happened with the Justice League film. Initiated under the direction of Zack Snyder, he left the production (or was fired, yet more rumors) after his adopted daughter committed suicide and the movie was taken over by Josh Whedon, who went on to remake much of the film and released what was a decent, if obviously very different work from what Mr. Snyder would have likely given us.
Justice League underperformed as well, and my feeling is that those early news of a troubled production had to weigh on potential filmgoers’ minds as they did with Solo.
But there’s more.
Solo also has the misfortune of being released at the tail end of two very big hero/effects films: Avengers Infinity Wars and Deadpool 2.
In fact, it seems in retrospect rather silly to release so many films like these one on top of the other. I’m noticing, for instance, that Avengers Infinity Wars, after a red hot initial release, has cooled down considerably at the box office and drew in “only” $16 million in its fourth week of release. It appears almost spent at this point. Similarly, Deadpool 2 came out of the gate hot but not quite as hot as was hoped, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe being released so soon after the Avengers film that too didn’t suck up the oxygen in the box office as well.
You see, there are only so many dollars out there to be made in films and if we have three very big films targeted to the same audience released at roughly the same time, the audience might have to pick and choose which one they will see, and the end result might be a sense of box office “failure” that might not be the case had more care been made toward finding an appropriate release date.
Finally, and as mentioned in the original CNN article I linked to, there is a worry that people might have a “fatigue” toward Star Wars properties. It’s a logical concern: Too much of a “good” think might prove, in the long run, not so good.
You can certainly oversaturate a fan base and it is possible this is what may be happening. On the other hand, the film comes very shortly after the release of The Last Jedi which, to many fans, left them with a source taste in their mouth and this too could have dissuaded some people who otherwise might have given the movie a look to skip it. At least for now.
(Apropos of nothing, I have a copy of Last Jedi and plan to see it soon enough. The back and forth -those that are well thought out and not just trolling- among fans of the film and detractors certainly has me curious)
Regardless, I’ll probably skip Solo for now and catch it later on when it reaches home video. Which is, coincidentally, what I’ll likely do with Infinity Wars.