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Solo: A Star Wars Story's Biggest Problem Was Its Confused Marketing

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Solo: A Star Wars Story has had its far-share of troubles, and its underwhelming marketing campaign may have paved the way to a disappointing opening weekend, all because of a confused marketing campaign. Solo already struggled with a tumultuous and expensive production. The original directing team, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, were fired and replaced with veteran director Ron Howard. Howard ended up reshooting about 70 - 80% of the film, nearly doubling the original budget of the film. As a result, Solo is now the most expensive Star Wars production of all time.

To make matters worse, Solo is now under-performing at the box office. It is worth noting that Solo is only struggling by Star Wars standards, with the highest opening weekend over Memorial Day weekend since X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014. For additional comparison, Solo grossed less than Justice League did on its opening weekend and less than half of Deadpool 2's worldwide gross.

Related: Ron Howard Comments on Solo’s Underwhelming Box Office

While there are many factors that likely played a role in Solo's reception and box office performance, the ineffective and confused marketing of the film did too little too late for a film that needed help combating negative rumors and Star Wars "fatigue". Because Solo advertising did not want to interfere with The Last Jedi, the first trailer did not premiere until the Super Bowl in February. Before then, Ron Howard's Twitter account was the most positive advertising for a film that had suffered from a flurry of negative press.

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Once the trailers were out, they didn't do enough to encourage audiences to come out for Solo or to convince audiences that Alden Ehrenreich's performance as Solo would be worthwhile. As it turns out, Solo was a fun and funny film that included Easter eggs and references for fans of the expanded universe and Star Wars Legends. Alden Ehrenreich gave an excellent performance as a charismatic and confident young Han. But neither of these things were conveyed to potential audience members in the trailer, and as such, Solo's marketing didn't showcase the film's strengths.

The Delayed Reveal Didn't Help Rumors

Solo's reshoots meant that production went much later than anticipated, wrapping only a few months before The Last Jedi premiered, and less than a year before Solo came to theaters. The film was supposed to finish filming in the summer of 2017, but Howard's reshoots lasted until October.

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The post-production timeline was further crunched by Solo's May release date. Solo is the first of the four new Star Wars films to open in May rather than December, and the move from the end-of-the-year holidays to Memorial day weekend may have played a role in the lackluster reception. Instead of building up to the new film over the course of the year, Solo only had five months of promotion after The Last Jedi premiered. Discussion of The Last Jedi after the film's premiere continued to take the limelight from Solo during the crucial early months of 2018.

More: Disney Executive Responds To Solo’s Opening Weekend Box Office

Presumably, both the delayed production schedule and the desire to avoid conflict with The Last Jedi affected when Solo began its marketing campaign. The first Solo trailer was released in February 2018 at the Super Bowl, but by the time the footage aired, there was already a negative view of the production. Fans had gone from anticipating the trailer to dismissing the film entirely, and so the trailer did not receive as much hype as previous Star Wars films. Solo needed a strong and forward public relations campaign to repair what was seen as a problematic production - the Super Bowl trailer was too late to push back against the rumors.

Page 2: The Trailers Hid The Best Parts

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Key Release Dates
  • Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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