The opening weekend for Solo: A Star Wars Story has seen the film gross well below expectations. The movie rolled out in every major market (save for Japan) and has grossed only $65 million in the overseas box office to date. Incredibly, that means 20th Century Fox's Deadpool 2 actually had a stronger opening weekend than the second Star Wars anthology film.
Solo: A Star Wars Story had always been viewed as something of a gamble for Lucasfilm. The studio's first Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was an edgy story featuring original characters; Solo, on the other hand, seemed like a safe decision, exploiting an already-strong brand while telling a story many fans weren't convinced they needed to see. Behind-the-scenes drama complicated the film's reception even further, with Phil Lord and Chris Miller parting ways with Lucasfilm towards the end of production, which meant that Ron Howard had to reshoot most of Solo, and that's believed to have doubled the budget. While reviews have been generally positive so far, all this meant Solo: A Star Wars Story had a mountain to climb. Sadly, it doesn't appear to have succeeded.
Domestically, the film's grossed only $88.3 million over the Memorial Day box office, and its failed to make up for that in the global box office. Star Wars films don't tend to perform quite so well internationally, with the franchise usually split about 50/50 in terms of domestic and foreign box office. Solo: A Star Wars Story isn't even performing well by that measure, grossing only $65 million internationally. To give a sense of scale to this, Solo's total of $148.3 million is less than half the global opening weekend of Deadpool 2, which grossed $301 million overseas. An R-rated superhero film (granted, a sequel) has officially performed better overseas than the latest Star Wars film.
Performance was worst in the Chinese market, where Solo: A Star Wars Story launched to only $10.1 million. The Chinese market is a particularly difficult one for Lucasfilm to crack, as the original Star Wars trilogy didn't release there back in the '70s and '80s, meaning Star Wars doesn't evoke the same sense of nostalgia. There's an ironic sense in which Solo is essentially cursed by the success of Rogue One. That grossed over $1 billion worldwide and has created the false expectation that every single Star Wars film should make more than a billion in the global box office. No studio was ever going to be able to maintain that kind of momentum.
It's possible the marketing for Solo sealed its fate. Lucasfilm was remarkably slow to market this particular anthology film. There were first reports of a trailer back in October 2017, but Lucasfilm chose to focus their attention on marketing The Last Jedi, and Solo's first trailer didn't debut until the Super Bowl in February - just three months before the theatrical release. While the last few weeks have seen Lucasfilm release a blitz of TV spots, the reality is that the film just hasn't had the chance to catch the public attention the way other Star Wars movies have done. Solo: A Star Wars Story's opening weekend proves that the Star Wars brand isn't enough to make moviegoers turn up to watch a film, at least not anymore in this time of year.
Sources: The Hollywood Reporter
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019