Solo: A Star Wars Story director Ron Howard offers three reasons why he believes the film failed at the box office. Released in theaters last summer, the second standalone spinoff became the first film in the Star Wars franchise to lose money. Costing more than $250 million to produce (due to the significant reshoots that took place after Howard took over for the fired Phil Lord & Chris Miller), Solo earned just $392.9 million worldwide. Its poor performance reportedly led to Lucasfilm shelving additional legacy character anthology films, such as oft-rumored projects about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett.
In the aftermath, people tried to make sense of a Star Wars movie coming up that short commercially. One primary reason cited was the weak marketing campaign, which did little to excite general audiences and paint Solo as a must-see blockbuster in theaters. Having a year to mull this puzzle over himself, Howard has not one, but a trio of reasons why he thinks the film couldn't meet expectations.
Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast (via LRM), Howard was asked about Solo's poor box office numbers. The director believes there were a few things that caused the low turnout, citing the film's Memorial Day opening (where it debuted in the shadow of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2) and internet trolls tanking Solo's "want to see" scores online. Most interestingly, he pointed to the movie's actual story.
“Maybe it’s the idea that it’s too nostalgic. That going back and revisiting an origin story for a beloved character may not be what the fans were looking for. It seemed to me looking at the opening, big but not as big as the others, I think that was [only] the hardcore fans. [The drop-off] tells you how many people are tagalongs who need to wait to see what people think or if it’s essential, if it’s a zeitgeist movie or not. It didn’t hit the zeitgeist, for whatever reason.”
Solo is arguably the modern Star Wars movie that was met with the greatest amount of skepticism when it was officially announced. There was a lot working against it from the jump, most notably the necessity to recast Harrison Ford in the titular role. While Alden Ehrenreich did an excellent job making Han his own, seeing somebody else play the iconic smuggler felt wrong to some viewers. Additionally, having the plot revolve around elements like how Han met Chewbacca and won the Millennium Falcon made Solo feel like a safe origin story that wasn't essential viewing in the grand scheme of things. While die-hard Star Wars fans were excited to check it out, Solo certainly lacked the "event movie" feel of something like The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi - direct continuations of the Skywalker saga. It's for that reason this December's The Rise of Skywalker is poised to be a return to form for the franchise, commercially speaking.
Lucasfilm appears to have learned some valuable lessons from Solo's failings; the first post-Episode IX movie won't hit theaters until 2022 and the next three are all scheduled for December premieres (avoiding the May window that befell Solo). Kathleen Kennedy also admitted that the Marvel strategy doesn't work for Star Wars (i.e. building sub-franchises around individual characters), which is why separate trilogies from David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and Rian Johnson will be entirely disconnected from the Skywalker story. There's currently a popular social media campaign to get a Solo sequel off the ground, but that doesn't appear to be in the cards - at least on the film side of things. With a third Star Wars series planned for the Disney+ streaming service, perhaps the adventures of young Han could continue on the small screen.
Source: Happy Sad Confused (via LRM)
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019