According to a Wall Street media analyst, a bad marketing campaign is the primary culprit for Solo: A Star Wars Story's underwhelming box office haul. The spinoff, which was released in theaters over the Memorial Day weekend, will go down as the first installment in the franchise to disappoint commercially. With only $148.9 million earned domestically in 10 days, there's a good chance Solo fails to make its money back after the production budget spiraled out of control.
In the aftermath of this unprecedented disaster, many are trying to figure out where to point the blame. Some have theorized that with Solo being the fourth new Star Wars film released in two and a half years, audiences have grown fatigued of the galaxy far, far away. Others suggest the behind-the-scenes woes that saw Ron Howard replace original directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller sunk the project's prospects. But, at least in the mind of one analyst, it all boils down to how Disney sold the film.
Per Deadline, Doug Cruetz, a media analyst at Cowen, recently issued a report that rated Disney shares. In it, he offered his two cents on Solo not meeting expectations, pointing to a lackluster promotional campaign. As some may recall, Lucasfilm didn't unveil the first look at the film until the Super Bowl in February (roughly three months before release) and made the curious decision to hide star Alden Ehrenreich in early materials. This contrasted from the other films of Star Wars' Disney era, which had eight-month long marketing campaigns that built up hype over a long period of time and shined a spotlight on their main characters.
It's easy to see how Solo was undercut by its advertising. Lucasfilm thought they'd be able to coast on the Star Wars name alone, without really positioning Solo as a must-see event. This was something of a death knell, seeing that Solo opened on the heels of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, which were two highly-anticipated sequels that represented the next step forward for their respective franchises. Solo always looked like a fun heist film, but of the three tentpoles to kick off the summer movie season, it was probably the one seen as the most disposable by general audiences. Die-hard Star Wars fans were always going to show up on opening weekend, but casual moviegoers had little reason to be invested.
Fortunately, an uneven marketing strategy is an easy fix as Disney and Lucasfilm evaluate their next moves. It probably goes without saying that Episode IX (which releases in December 2019) will have a similar promotional pattern to The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, which combined to gross in excess of $3 billion worldwide. There's no denying Solo's performance is alarming and will probably bring about some changes moving forward, but Lucasfilm isn't going to make any drastic overreactions at this point in time.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019