Solo: A Star Wars Story has a new title in China, and it doesn't include the Star Wars branding. The upcoming anthology movie, directed by Ron Howard after he replaced Chris Miller and Phil Lord, has certainly had its share of controversy and potential turmoil behind-the-scenes. And although Star Wars: The Last Jedi became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time overall, the sequel greatly disappointed in China.
After The Force Awakens raked in $124 million of its $2 billion-plus worldwide total in China, The Last Jedi earned just $41 million in the same market. Also, the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, made just $69 million in China. Now, confidence in Star Wars as a franchise in the country appears to be plummeting. And there's clearly no hope that the Han Solo movie will succeed under the Star Wars banner.
As reported by Chinese film market tracker Gavin Feng via Twitter on Friday, Solo: A Star Wars Story will be released in China under the title Ranger Solo. Feng credited the local media organization "MTime" for the report. Solo's title change is almost certainly a reaction to the sharp drop-off the Star Wars franchise has seen at the box office in China since The Force Awakens.
There's still no official trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, even though it comes out on May 25. But the official synopsis is out, and there's also been some promo art revealing Alden Ehrenreich as the title character, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and Emilia Clarke as Qi'Ra. And finally, Disney revealed footage of the movie at a German event to a positive reaction.
Despite the optimism surrounding the footage release, prior rumors suggest that Disney is expecting Solo to bomb at the box office. And a concern like that would go beyond just the Chinese market. Howard reportedly re-shot nearly the entire film for twice the budget and has more re-shoots scheduled, which will put the production at additional financial risk. And as for China, the re-branding to Ranger Solo certainly isn't a good sign for its performance over there.
Ultimately, the vast majority of Star Wars' massive fanbase will see Solo: A Star Wars Story when it first hits theaters. Howard's track record suggests he may have been able to make a "beautiful film" like one of its stars said. Star Wars hasn't lost any drawing power domestically, so it will likely be a box office success in the end. But in China, it's clear where they see the franchise heading.
Source: Gavin Feng
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019