Solo: A Star Wars Story had the biggest Memorial Holiday weekend box office opening since 2014, despite coming in below expectations. The Star Wars anthology film, which explores the backstory and origins of the man they call Solo, endured a mid-production change in directors and extended principal photography (causing Solo's production cost to balloon) before making it across the finish line. Despite that, the movie was projected to set a Memorial Holiday weekend opening record during its four day debut around the world, in the last few weeks ahead of its release.
Ultimately, however, that didn't happen; Solo's three day domestic opening take of $84.7 million was well below that of the previous Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One (which opened with $155.1 million in December 2016), and even came in below last year's much derided Justice League. That further makes Solo's opening the smallest for a Star Wars movie released since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, after Rogue One and the last two mainline installments, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi (both of which debuted with over $200 million domestically). That said, it's not all bad news for Solo at the moment.
According to Box Office Mojo, Solo took in an estimated $103 million stateside over the four day Memorial Holiday, raising its overall global box office gross to an estimated $168 million. That may be the smallest debut yet for a Star Wars movie in the Disney era, but it's the largest bow for a film over the Memorial Holiday frame since X-Men: Days of Future Past opened to $110 million back in 2014. A number of high-profile movies have opened to smaller than expected numbers over the holiday frame since then, including Days of Future Past's own sequel X-Men: Apocalypse, as well as Disney's expensive bomb Tomorrowland, Dwayne Johnson's Baywatch movie reboot, and the Johnny Depp-led Disney sequels Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Last year's Memorial Holiday box office was actually the lowest in nearly 20 years, as a result of both the Baywatch reboot and fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie under-performing. By comparison, 2018's Memorial Holiday managed to surpass the total gross for last year's frame ($173 million) with its top three films alone; right after Solo was Deadpool 2 with $53.5 million over the four day period, followed by Avengers: Infinity War with $21.2 million in its fourth weekend of release. That puts Deadpool 2's worldwide box office gross to just shy of half a billion dollars so far and pushes Infinity War beyond $1.9 billion in theaters around the globe.
Between the heavy competition, its marketing getting started relatively late, and The Last Jedi having only debuted in theaters five months earlier, it's easy to see how Solo could have disappointed at the box office based on those factors alone. The film now faces a steep climb uphill to becoming profitable, primarily because it cost some $250 million to make after Ron Howard came aboard as director and re-shot 70-75% of the rough footage that had already been captured. Fortunately, there's hope yet for Howard's movie; Solo is generating solid word of mouth and won't have to face another tentpole until Incredibles 2 hits the scene in mid-June, meaning it may yet prove to have real legs at the box office.
To paraphrase Han - never tell Disney/Lucasfilm the odds!
Source: Box Office Mojo
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019