Solo: A Star Wars Story star Paul Bettany says he was surprised by the film's poor performance at the box office. Though the spinoff opened in theaters earlier this year with generally positive word-of-mouth, it struggled to make much of an impact commercially. Debuting on the heels of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, Solo floundered in its first weekend and will be remembered as the first Star Wars movie to lose money for its distributor. Even when ancillary revenue such as home media sales is counted, Solo will still be about $50 million in the red.
Given that Star Wars was just coming off a mini box office dynasty where the franchise produced the highest-grossing film three years in a row, this was a shocking turn of events. Solo was never expected to post numbers similar to The Last Jedi, but few would have thought it would end up like this. Those involved with the movie are still trying to make sense of it all.
In an interview with MTV, Bettany discussed Solo's box office turnout, expressing confusion over Solo's box office figures:
“I loved the movie. I went to see the movie and I loved it. I knew some real dyed-in-the-wool nerd fans, Ryan Adams, for instance, who was like, ‘It’s so fantastic, I love it!’ and then he went to see it again. I took him to the premiere and then he went to see it again. It was confusing to me. I thought the story was so great, I thought the execution was so great, so it was surprising, to me.”
Analysts blamed a lackluster marketing campaign, saying Lucasfilm did not do an adequate job of selling Solo to casual viewers. However, the infamous production woes may deserve more of the blame. Originally, the studio had envisioned Solo as a "smaller" movie with a budget of about $125 million (smaller than the original Ant-Man). But when Ron Howard took over for the fired Phil Lord & Chris Miller and reshot essentially the entire movie, the price tag doubled to a whopping $250 million. Solo is the most expensive film Lucasfilm has ever made. If it all went according to plan, it would have needed to earn $250 million worldwide to break even. It's currently earned $388.2 million, so it would have turned a minor profit under normal circumstances.
Still, Solo's figures aren't in the same ballpark as the other Star Wars titles of the Disney era, meaning Lucasfilm needs to rethink their strategies moving forward. Reportedly, other standalone movies revolving around classic characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett are being put on hold for now, though since Lucasfilm never officially announced them, it's difficult to separate truth from rumor. Hopefully, the studio learns all the right lessons from Solo's failure, and this is just a minor bump in the road for the continually evolving franchise.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019