Analysts believe that Solo: A Star Wars Story may not manage to crack $250 million at the domestic box office in its entire theatrical run - a number that Star Wars: The Force Awakens came close to topping in its opening weekend alone. Disney's three previous Star Wars entries - The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - all ended up passing $1 billion worldwide, but after a troubled (and expensive) production, Solo is proving to be the franchise revival's first stumble.
Of course, that doesn't mean that the movie is a box office bomb - merely that it's not meeting the expectations for a franchise as big as Star Wars. Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, and was directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie) until the pair left the project three weeks before the end of filming. Ron Howard (Rush) was then brought in to finish the movie off and reshoot much of what had already been filmed, bringing the planned $125 million budget up to a hefty $250 million - even higher than the production costs for The Force Awakens.
With a budget that large, Solo needs to gross around $500 million worldwide just to hit the break-even point. According to Deadline, the movie is expected to gross around $30-33 million in its second weekend, dropping 60% from its Memorial Day weekend opening. By the end of its theatrical run, analysts are estimating that it will be "lucky" to reach $250 million at the domestic box office. Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed just shy of $248 million in its opening weekend alone.
Solo's opening weekend box office was $84 million - a long way short of Disney's first anthology movie, Rogue One, whose debut topped $155 million. The reasons for Solo's relatively weak performance are mixed: the production problems meant that early buzz was poor and marketing got started late; the movie was released just a few months after the last Star Wars movie, instead of a full year; and it was competing with Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 (which grossed $22 million and $53 million, respectively, over the Memorial Day weekend).
With domestic box office projections looking pretty reserved, Solo may now depend on international markets in order to turn a profit. So far Disney's Star Wars movies have had about a 50/50 split between international and domestic box office (unlike Marvel movies, they don't have a strong foothold in China), which means we may be looking at a $500 million worldwide total by the end of Solo's theatrical run. Had the movie stuck to its original budget, that would have been a decent performance, but now it's unclear whether or not Solo will be able to pay off those expensive reshoots.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019