Solo: A Star Wars Story lands in theaters this weekend and could potentially mark two different milestones. The film is currently tracking to earn nearly $140 million this weekend, which would break the record for largest Memorial Day opening weekend of all time (besting Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End's $139.8 million), yet could be Disney's lowest opening for a Star Wars film.
The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi pose formidable competition for Solo, as those films offered audiences a variety of reunions that they had been waiting decades for. These films opened at $248 million and $220 million, respectively, both of which were topped by Avengers: Infinity War's opening in April. A more accurate comparison would be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, another standalone film, which opened to $155 million.
No one factor can account for Solo opening below other Star Wars offerings, with a variety of elements possibly explaining the lower projected totals.
One factor is the saturation of highly-anticipated films opening within four weeks of one another, many of which are breaking records. Disney debuted Infinity War in April, though it dominated the box office for three weeks in a row. Being tonally similar to Solo, it's likely that audiences are still buzzing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe outing and are focused on repeat viewings of the adventure.
Last weekend, Deadpool 2 broke the record for highest gross on a single day for an R-rated film, taking in $53.3 million on Friday. The violence and obscenity-laden superhero sequel might not pose a direct threat to the more family-friendly adventure of Solo, though many audiences will be clamoring for the Merc with a Mouth in its second week of release.
December's The Last Jedi was a financial, critical, and creative success, with viewers praising writer/director Rian Johnson's compelling narrative that took the saga into uncharted territory. That territory seemingly irritated a vocal minority of fans who made it their mission to bash the franchise across social media as they shouted their "criticisms" into an echo chamber. Regardless, rather than Star Wars fans being united in excitement for Solo, the excitement and word-of-mouth surrounding the film has been much like a Skywalker stuffed into a tauntaun: Luke warm.
Early buzz about the film is relatively positive, with ComicBook.com's own Joseph Schmidt claiming the film "was a TON of fun. Felt more like a Star Wars movie than Rogue One. Don't look up spoilers! It's full of surprises."
Audiences will get to see the film when Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters this weekend.
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[H/T Entertainment Weekly]