Solo: A Star Wars Story may have bombed at the box office, but home video sales can help the movie break even - and perhaps turn a profit as well. The Star Wars spinoff had a notoriously difficult production, with original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller exiting mere weeks before principal photography wrapped, and veteran director Ron Howard brought in to finish the movie. The result was an inflated budget and a delayed start to marketing a movie that people were already skeptical about. Solo ultimately failed to even crack $400 million at the worldwide box office.
It's important to note, however, that Solo's poor word-of-mouth didn't extend to the reviews. Those who did go and see the movie seemed to enjoy the space heist adventure, led by Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, and Solo carries a respectable 71% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It saw the return of a young Lando Calrissian (played by Donald Glover this time around), offered an interesting origin story for how Han met Chewbacca, and even featured a surprise cameo from Darth Maul.
Solo's failure to perform at the box office was driven by a range of factors - not the least of which was the fact that it released a mere week after Deadpool 2, and less than six months after the last Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi. Now Solo is gearing up for its Digital HD release on September 14, and its DVD and Blu-ray release on September 25. If it can match the sales performance of the last Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One, Solo stands a decent chance of, if not turning a profit, then at least hitting the break-even point.
The most commonly used metric for estimating a movie's break-even point is to double the production budget (to account for marketing and distribution costs). With an estimated budget of $250 million, Solo needed to gross about $500 million at the box office in order to break even, but managed only $392 million. According to Nash Information Services' sales tracking website The Numbers, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story grossed $83 million in domestic video sales from April-December 2017. If Solo can achieve similar sales, or even better sales, Disney may not end up at a loss after all - especially when factoring in merchandise sales.
The fact that Solo was generally poorly-viewed during its theatrical run (as opposed to Rogue One, which grossed more than $1 billion at the box office) could actually work out in its favor when it comes to the home video release. People who skipped Solo when it was in theaters may now be interested in watching it at home - especially as Star Wars fans face the long wait for Star Wars: Episode IX.
Of course, when you're talking about the biggest sci-fi movie franchise of all time, a movie breaking even isn't exactly a success story. But Solo is enjoyable enough to be worthy of a reappraisal now that the dust has settled on both the production drama and the online backlash to The Last Jedi.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019