In a disappointing turn of events, Solo: A Star Wars Story's opening day at the box office is by far the worst of the franchise's Disney era, coming in well below Rogue One. When the project was first announced three years ago, it was the one fans were the most skeptical of. However, Solo's fortunes looked to be on the upswing in the weeks leading up to its theatrical premiere. Not only were reactions out of early screenings generally positive, tracking indicated it would break the Memorial Day weekend record by posting $170 million over the four days.
Solo seemed to be on the right track when it made $14.1 million from Thursday night preview screenings, but then the outlook changed for the worse. The latest projections coming in suggest the spinoff will only earn between $105-115 million during the holiday weekend, and its opening day in theaters is certainly indicative of a softer landing.
Per Box Office Mojo, Solo brought in $35.6 million on Friday, May 25. That figure obviously doesn't hold a candle to the debuts of The Force Awakens ($119.1 million) or The Last Jedi ($104.6 million) and is about half of what Rogue One made in the same time frame. The 2016 standalone grossed $71 million its first day in theaters. This development is troubling for Solo since its production budget is said to be in excess of $250 million, and it needed to perform exceptionally well in order to turn a profit. With the domestic earning this low, it seems unlikely the previously reported global debut of $300+ million will happen.
While some may point to Solo's lukewarm (but generally good) reviews as the main culprit, there are other factors to consider. First of all, the movie is arriving on the heels of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 - two highly-anticipated sequels. Star Wars is forever popular, but the demand for a genre tentpole wasn't as high as it was the last few years when Star Wars stormed into theaters in December. Additionally, Memorial Day isn't the box office lock it once was, with several recent examples (like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) illustrating the point. Fortunately, Solo is generating positive word-of-mouth from viewers on social media, so hopefully that'll give it strong legs over the next few weeks.
Despite this development, audiences shouldn't expect Lucasfilm to pump the breaks on Star Wars spinoffs. It's important to keep in mind that Solo's budget was doubled due to the reshoots, meaning it originally cost in the $125 million range. If everything went according to plan, this start still wouldn't be ideal, but it wouldn't be disastrous either. Regardless of how Solo plays out during its run, this is a valuable lesson for the studio to learn. When the time comes for Boba Fett, Obi-Wan, and others to get in front of the cameras, get it right the first time.
Source: Box Office Mojo
- 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