Solo: A Star Wars Story is expected to lose at least $50 million for Disney when it's all said and done. The second of Lucasfilm's Star Wars anthology films did not land the way the studio hoped. Plagued by an uninspired marketing campaign and opening in the shadow of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, the spinoff posted a soft $103 million over the 4-day Memorial Day weekend before taking a nosedive this week and earning only $29.3 million in its second frame. In its first 10 days, Solo's global haul is just $264.3 million.
It goes without saying these numbers are poor, but they're compounded by the fact Solo's production budget was doubled to over $250 million due to its various production difficulties, including Ron Howard coming in to reshoot essentially all of the picture. Solo needed to be a massive hit in order to turn a profit, but instead, it's going to finish its run in the red. We now know just how much this investment is going to cost the Mouse House.
According to THR, Solo is projected to lose $50+ million, with some estimates suggesting it'll ultimately be $80 million or more. The final figure is going to determine on home media and television rights sales, plus other "ancillary revenues." Even if it comes in on the low end of this range, Solo will forever have the rather ignominious distinction of being the first Star Wars movie to lose its distributor money. Even The Clone Wars (which was theatrically released in 2008), grossed $68.2 million worldwide against a budget of $8.5 million.
While reports of the franchise's demise are greatly exaggerated, there's no denying Solo's performance is going to force Lucasfilm to re-evaluate their strategies moving forward. Even if the film came in at its initial $125 million budget, the box office figures (while enough to break even) aren't anything special. Looking ahead, it may be for the best if Star Wars sticks to its new Christmas home, as the three films to premiere in December all made over $1 billion worldwide and were the highest-grossing titles domestically in their respective years of release. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi were all able to take advantage of limited competition, plus boast the status of being the must-see movie of the holiday season. Since that formula has proven to be monumentally successful, Lucasfilm will probably opt to leave the summer behind.
This development likely means that any potential there was for a Solo sub-franchise (Alden Ehrenreich signed a multi-film deal) is gone. Fortunately, the studio had no concrete plans for a Solo sequel in place, meaning they don't have to drastically alter their post-Episode IX release slate. They are moving ahead with things like Rian Johnson's new trilogy and a spinoff series development by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and the lessons of Solo will stick with Lucasfilm as they prepare for those projects. After all, the greatest teacher failure is.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019