By Justice Skinner
“Disney Shares Drop as Solo Tanks at the Box Office” reports MovieWeb. “Solo: A Star Wars Story sinks 65% in the second weekend” CNNMoney states. “Solo is Officially the First Star Wars Movie to Flop” proclaims Vanity Fair.
If you have been anywhere on the internet recently, you have probably heard about the box office “bomb” of Solo: A Star Wars Story. The movie has only raked in what has come to a total of 149 million domestically in its second weekend. To put this into perspective, The Last Jedi had 368 million domestically after its second weekend, While Rogue One had 286 million by its weekend two.
So why is Solo bombing so hard? Was this to be expected? And what does this mean for Star Wars in the future?
There are multiple reasons for this.
One reason is the date that Lucasfilm pushed for Solo to release. The last three movies in the Stars Franchise that fit into the category of sequel/spin off have all been Decembers dates. All of them have produced considerably well. Going to see Star Wars in December was turning into a Christmas tradition.
For Star Wars to put out an untested project with a fresh-faced leading man controversially portraying one of the greatest characters in cinema history in a month that already had seen box office smashes? Not a great plan.
The time that Disney and Lucas decided Solo was to come out was unfortunate. The film released during a run in which Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 were wrecking box offices. Both superhero movies utilized the power of advertisement. Unfortunately, Solo did not.
Deadpool 2’s marketing team was extraordinary, using Deadpool’s brilliant fourth wall breaking to its advantage. I knew exactly when both of these movies came out and was pumped to go see them. For Solo, I had a different experience.
In fact, when my friend asked me, “Hey, we should go see Solo tomorrow.” My response was “Solo came out?”
A third reason would be the reshooting.
The original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were replaced by Ron Howard. Howard reshot 70-85% of the movie. The makeover engorged Solo’s budget, pushing the cost to a figure in excess of 250 million dollars (US). This new price tag forced the movie to be crazy successful and accentuated the growing pressure to make a profit. Even still, if Solo was released on a reasonable date and didn’t have bloated reshoots, it still may have faced failure.
Why? I will tell you. The Last Jedi.
The Last Jedi was a critically acclaimed movie that grossed 1.3 billion dollars worldwide. However, many fans reacted to the movie harshly, creating very visible rifts in the fanbase.
One large complaint within the community is how Lucasfilm decided to portray the heroes that we all grew to love in the original trilogy. When Disney bought Star Wars, newly crowned president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, told George Lucas, “The main thing is to protect these characters and to make sure they continue to live in the way that you created them.” After the first two Skywalker films, it seems as if that promise has been broken… at least in some ways.
Jeremy Jahns, a brilliant movie reviewer on youtube, had a lot to say on this subject. In a recently posted video, Jahns says it best about the Disney takeover.
“The old crew being killed off to make way for the new crew doesn’t sound like the merger we were told it was. It essentially sounds like a hostile take-over. Which is a how a lot of people are interpreting these movies.”
(The following includes spoilers for TLJ and Force Awakens, but come on, by this point, you should have watched these by now).
Han Solo’s returned in Force Awakens as the same old lovable plasma-slinger, except wiser and more wrinkled. Oppositely, with Luke Skywalker… the grouchy Luke Skywalker … the viewer is often rubbed you the wrong way. Luke did have a part in creating the dark sith, Kylo Ren, and this would take a toll on anybody. But for the man who was literally the new hope of the universe to apparently lose hope seems uncharacteristic. Luke Skywalker is the last person in the room to lose faith and the first to lead the fight.
He stood up to the Empire because he believed. He believed that there was good in his father, despite the fact that he had murdered Luke’s master, cut off Luke’s hand, and slaughtered an assumed thousands of innocent people. The guy even drinks milk that is blue with an unwavering faith that it won’t mess up his insides.
Mark Hamill went on record several times talking about how he disagreed with Rian Johnson’s direction with Luke, but that he would respect him and do his best with what was given. I don’t think anyone has a problem with gradually moving on from aging characters in a series to establish the new team. What is upsetting to many people is the speed and urgency that Lucasfilm is rushing out older characters.
Now, after saying all that, you would be surprised to hear this: I enjoyed The Last Jedi a ton. The action-packed film kept me invested for the entire runtime. The Throne Room fight scene was especially entertaining. However, the movie did admittedly have flaws, and some of those flaws kept people away from the theater the last two weeks.
Future of Star Wars
Star Wars is one of the most unique creations of all time. In fact, it is a cultural phenomenon. Star Wars captivated a generation, and then it did it again. The same collective spirit of hope and adventure has been passed on and has allowed the franchise to thrive across multiple decades. The new trilogy has been awe-inspiring in many ways, with some of the best cinematography I have ever seen.
But this remarkable stage Star Wars has come with an unforgiving spotlight, highlighting weaknesses as well as strengths. For a franchise full of sure-fire hits, Solo’s box office bomb is the humbling needed to steer the franchise in the right direction.
Let’s just hope that Disney is able to work their movie magic, and continue creating master stories from far, far away.