Could the underperforming Solo: A Star Wars Story affect Disney-Lucasfilm’s plans for other standalones and prequel stories set in the Star Wars universe?
The young Han Solo origin tale opened with a franchise-low of $83.3 million over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, bringing in $103 million for the four-day weekend. Worldwide, Solo is nearing $200 million after one week of release.
Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis attributed the poor performance to a packed movie season — Solo came five weeks after Disney-Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War and just two weeks after Fox hit Deadpool 2 — but Solo also may have suffered from coming in too close on the heels of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which proved controversial and divisive amongst fans.
On Solo’s opening night last Thursday, word broke Disney tapped Logan director James Mangold to write and direct a standalone Boba Fett film centered around the mysterious bounty hunter who famously pursued Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.
That news came months after the studio officially announced in November The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson would next steer his own trilogy of Star Wars films separate from the episodic saga, and months still after Disney announced yet another series of films from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
Earlier this month, it was reported the proposed Obi-Wan movie would enter into production in spring 2019, continuing Lucasfilm’s ambitious plans for a Star Wars movie at least once yearly. The studio next releases Episode IX in December 2019, giving the series its biggest break in-between installments since franchise revival The Force Awakens in 2015.
Hollis told The Hollywood Reporter the studio will “spend a lot of time digging into why things happened the way they did” in regards to Solo’s lukewarm performance, but made it clear Disney — who has released a Star Wars film every December for the past three years — doesn’t blame franchise fatigue or over saturation.
“We have a year and a half before Episode IX comes out. We've had so much success,” Hollis said. “The previous three Star Wars films did $4 billion worth of of business at the box office, so it doesn't feel like saturation is necessarily an issue, but we are still answering all of the questions.”
With at least 6 films in the works — the Johnson trilogy, the unknown Benioff/Weiss movie or movies, Obi-Wan, and now Boba Fett — one has to wonder if Solo has Lucasfilm reconsidering the projects on the table because, as Solo proves, it takes more than just the Star Wars brand to launch a film or a franchise-within-a-franchise.
Solo stars one of the saga’s most popular and well-known characters, teaming him with other Star Wars favorites Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and the Millennium Falcon — and it still arrived to a whimper at the box worldwide box office, falling far short of its contemporaries The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi and the first outside-the-episodes standalone, Rogue One.
As said by Hollis, Disney will dig into figuring out why Solo didn’t take off, and in that post mortem, they’re likely to take another look at their plans and use Solo to gauge interest in other prequels centered around familiar characters.3comments
Solo failed, but Rogue One — also a prequel but otherwise mostly unconnected to previously seen characters — racked up another $1 billion-plus at the box office just a year after the well-received franchise revival The Force Awakens. Was Solo affected by bitter aftertaste carried over from The Last Jedi? Did it suffer from coming in too close after the last Star Wars — especially sandwiched between two Marvel-inspired heavy hitters? Or do Solo's troubles lie solely with this film on its own?
There’s likely a combination of factors, one that Disney will sniff out, but maybe expect the financial response to Solo to have a significant effect on Lucasfilm’s productions moving forward.