The latest Star Wars film, the Ron Howard-directed Solo: A Star Wars Story, opened to a surprisingly tepid box office response, at least by blockbuster standards, suggesting it might be a mistake for Star Wars to release more than one film a year. There are a number of factors which may be to blame for the film's soft launch, from the recasting of one of the most iconic characters ever put on the silver screen, to the highly publicized behind-the-scenes drama involving the firing of the film's original directors, to Solo's comparatively free-wheeling, low-stakes action when compared to the immediate doomsday threats of Rogue One's Death Star or Starkiller Base from The Force Awakens.
One of the most often-cited issues with the film was its release date, on Memorial Day weekend. Solo is the fourth Star Wars film since the franchise – and the rest of Lucasfilm – was acquired by Disney, but it's the first entry not to release in the month of December. The film's proximity to the somewhat divisive The Last Jedi surely didn't help matters, especially considering how Rian Johnson's game-changing blockbuster continues to dominate any Star Wars conversation, even five months on from release.
Why did Disney opt to release Solo in May, hot on the heels of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, and not wait until December? The Christmas holiday season is proven territory for the franchise in its modern incarnation, although it's worth noting, back in the old days, the original six movies each made their debuts in May.
It's likely that Disney was testing the waters of releasing more than one Star Wars film per year, following in the footsteps of their other huge live-action franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, Solo's soft box office debut can be seen as evidence which suggests Star Wars Trying To Move To Two Movies A Year Is A Mistake.
- This Page: The Star Wars Approach Vs The Marvel Approach
- Page 2: Why the Marvel Approach Doesn't Work With Star Wars
The Star Wars Approach Vs The Marvel Approach
Disney released Solo in the Summer, just five months out from The Last Jedi, in an effort to prove that they could replicate their success with Marvel Studios, which is currently releasing no less than three movies per year. Although Lucasfilm is holding their cards close, the plan for the current trilogy (Episodes VII-IX) is to release movies semi-annually, alternating between mainline "saga" films and stand-alone spinoffs.
Thus far, this approach has been successful, to say the least. The first three films in the revived series each grossed over a billion dollars at the global box office, with The Force Awakens even managing to crack the vaunted two billion dollar mark. However, it's unclear what the future of the mainline Star Wars saga holds after Episode IX. Will there be an Episode X? What about Rian Johnson's upcoming trilogy, as well as the series of films from the creators of Game of Thrones? Will they take the place of "saga" films, or anthology side stories? Or does Disney have something else in mind?
Disney's decision to release Solo in May was a method of testing the viability of releasing Star Wars movies all year round, a method which has worked wonders with their Marvel movies. The first MCU movie to release outside of the Summer months was Thor: The Dark World, which made its debut in November of 2013, five years after Iron Man, the first entry in Marvel's stable of blockbusters. The next MCU film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opened on April 4, 2014, getting a one-month head start on the traditional Summer movie season, and the first Guardians of the Galaxy was considered unorthodox with its August 1 release date. Since then, the MCU has included more November releases (Thor: Ragnarok and Doctor Strange), and its current domestic champion, Black Panther, opened in February, a month which is often considered a dumping ground for doomed movies.
If this year-round approach works with Marvel, then it should work with Star Wars, right?
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019