Solo: A Star Wars Story stumbled at box office, marking the worst debut in franchise history — What went wrong?

FP Staff

May,31 2018 12:21:36 IST

The reaches of the galaxy far, far away might not be quite as vast as previously thought.

In a box-office blip that echoed through the multiplexes, Solo: A Star Wars Story didn't fare well over the Memorial Day weekend, amassing an estimated $103 million in ticket sales from Thursday night to Monday. Most movies dream of such openings, but the standard for Star Wars is different, as is the bottom line. According to Variety, approximately $400 million to $450 million are expected in total revenue at the end of its run.

Solo: A Star Wars Story promo. Image via Twitter

Solo: A Star Wars Story promo. Image via Twitter

Solo, which switched directors mid-production, cost more than $250 million to make and another $150 million to promote, and it was expected to debut with around $150 million. For the first time, the Star Wars juggernaut was humbled at the box office. The opening marked the worst debut in the franchise's history and Disney's stock slid 2.5 percent in trading on Tuesday.

“It’s a financial disappointment and you have to wonder, is this just a speed bump in the road for the Star Wars brand, or is there something more here?,” Eric Handler, an analyst at MKM Partners, told Variety.

Also read: Solo: A Star Wars Story's director Ron Howard reveals Tom Hanks wanted cameo as a Stormtrooper

No one yet needs to run panicked through the streets yelling "Save the Wookies!" But for the first time since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion, the profit potential within George Lucas' space saga no longer appears limitless.

Instead of opening up a new Han Solo trilogy, the disappointing arrival of Solo only intensified the questions bubbling around one of the movies' biggest properties. Is there a filmmaker beside JJ Abrams that can win over both die-hards and new fans? How slavish should subsequent sequels and spinoffs be to the originals? Is there anyone in China who cares a lick about lightsabers?

Those problems came to a head on Solo, where filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were replaced during shooting by Ron Howard, who steered the film in a less irreverent comic direction that stayed closer to the script co-written by Lawrence Kasdan, the veteran Star Wars scribe of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Once envisioned as a western-style prequel romp, Solo became an existential battle over the tone of Star Wars, as Lucasfilm struggled to find a balance between old and new.

Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson is developing another trilogy in the main line of films. Game of Thrones creators DB Weiss and David Benioff will write and produce a separate batch of Star Wars films. Jon Favreau is writing and executive producing a live-action series for Disney's upcoming streaming platform. James Mangold (Logan) is to write and a direct a Boba Fett film. Rumours have long swirled about an Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff.

The litany of releases has, for some, diluted the power of Star Wars. Solo followed The Last Jedi by just five months, leading some to wonder if moviegoers are showing signs of Star Wars fatigue.

But the best solution for Star Wars might be even simpler. A full half — and, arguably, the clearly weaker half — of the Star Wars canon follows events leading up to A New Hope. Solo, Rogue One and Lucas' little-loved 1999-2005 trilogy all function as preludes for what's the come.

So whatever changes need to be made in the Star Wars universe, Lucasfilm could start with this: Look to the future, and give up the prequel.

With inputs from AP

Updated Date: May 31, 2018 12:24 PM