What Does Solo's Failure Mean For the Future?
So, when it comes to Solo: A Star Wars Story, it's lukewarm reviews, and its disastrous box office, what does the future of the Star Wars franchise look like? Probably not much different than it looked before Solo, but Disney and Lucasfilm will have learned a number of key lessons that will strengthen the brand going forward.
The first lesson is that the Star Wars brand doesn't sell itself. Sure, fans will always show up, as will a certain segment of casual moviegoers, but if Lucasfilm wants to replicate the success of future installments, particularly non-core saga films, they need to create a sense of urgency for each movie. Much of the dialogue leading up to Solo's release hinged on the word "necessary," questioning if the movie had a reason to exist. And while that particular way of thinking doesn't make sense for any movie, it does show that the Star Wars brand wasn't enough to convince audiences to see it. And, by Solo based on how "necessary" it was, audiences were actually calling Lucasfilm out for assuming that simply bearing the Star Wars brand was enough.
Future Star Wars spin-offs will certainly still happen. Audiences will show up for a Kenobi movie or a Boba Fett movie, and probably even Solo sequels, but those movies will all be produced and released in a new context. Solo was the highest grossing movie to be released on Memorial Day weekend in 4 years. But that wasn't enough. Lucasfilm will get smarter with release dates. The opening four days brought in over $100 million domestically, which may have been acceptable for its original - more modest - budget of around $125 million, but the inflated budget from Phil Lord and Chris Miller's time at the wheel, combined with the additional expense of replacing directors and reshooting most of the movie, pushed profitability out of sight. Future spin-offs may be conceived as lower budget affairs - fortunately, a relatively simple task for Kenobi and Fett.
The bottom line is, Disney paid over $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm, so they're going to find a way to make Star Wars films work. So far, the main saga films have gone off without a hitch, and they're 50-50 on the spin-off movies. They aren't going to abandon any of these plans, merely adjust to find a way to make it work. Even Marvel Studios had to navigate around a few hiccups like The Incredible Hulk, which also struggled at the box office and saw similar review scores. Looking back after Infinity War, Incredible Hulk was hardly a franchise killer, and the same will bear true for Solo over time.
Episode IX is on the horizon with J.J. Abrams back at the helm, and long rumored Kenobi and Boba Fett (the latter of which is rumored to have James Mangold, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the Logan screenplay) gaining more support than Solo ever had. The 19 month wait for Episode IX will certainly be rough following Solo: A Star Wars Story, but once marketing kicks on for what could be the final installment of the Skywalker saga, all eyes will be on J.J. Abrams, Chris Terrio, Rey, Kylo Ren, and the rest of the gang for what's bound to be an epic conclusion, making Solo's fallout a distant memory.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019