‘Solo’ angling toward historic lows for Star Wars after two weeks

Image: lucasfilm ltd.

If it wasn’t clear after opening weekend, it sure is now. Solo is likely to end its run in theaters as the biggest box office bust in Star Wars history.

The current weekend estimate for U.S. ticket sales is $29.3 million, representing a 65 percent drop-off in attendance after last weekend’s opening sprint of $84.4 million ($103 million if you also count Memorial Day Monday).

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This is more than just a rough start. In the realm of first-run releases (i.e. not counting Special Editions and re-releases), only Star Wars: The Clone Wars fared worse. And that “movie” was really just three episodes of the then-new animated TV series stitched together; its theatrical release, which dropped to less than 1,000 theaters after a month, was largely meant to hype the show.

In other words: There’s really no comparing the two.

Solo‘s domestic gross so far is technically lower than every other Star Wars movie to date, Original Trilogy included. But it’s important to remember this is only the second weekend. The U.S. box office total of $148.9 million right now is sure to rise, obviously, but there’s some question as to how far it can go.

The next rung on the ladder is The Empire Strikes Back, which earned $209.4 million domestically. Solo has a shot at earning more than that — though even that isn’t certain — but it’s going to take a miracle for it to then earn more than Return of the Jedi‘s $252.6 million.

Image: Jonathan Olley /Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Remember, we’re talking about movies that are nearly 40 years old here and those are the raw numbers, not accounting for inflation. On BoxOfficeMojo’s chart that does account for inflation (an imperfect science, at best), the situation is even more grim: Solo is the lowest first-run Star Wars earner by far (Clone Wars aside); it’s even behind the special edition re-release of the original film.

But again: second weekend. There’s no telling what’s ahead, and the total box office so far only tells part of the story. However, Solo‘s shrinking audience paints a more complete picture.

The second weekend’s estimated total of $29.3 million represents a 65 percent drop-off in attendance after the $84.4 million opening. That’s not unheard of, especially during the spring and summer season when lots of other blockbusters vie for attention. 

It is worth noting that Solo faced little in the way of new release competition this week. It did finish in first place, but that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that the movie is only scraping the edge of $30 million in its second weekend. And that number only stands to fall faster as June delivers tentpoles like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and The Incredibles 2.

Solo‘s shrinking audience paints a more complete picture.

The important thing to remember is that weekend box office figures rarely go up. Last weekend set the bar at $84 million. Now it’s at $29 million. Next weekend will likely bring that bar down to around $15 million, at best. The diminishing returns should slow down soon, but realistically, Solo‘s final domestic box office ceiling is probably in the neighborhood of $200-250 million at best.

The question is, what does all of this mean for Star Wars? In the long term, nothing. Disney knows how valuable the Star Wars brand is and, more importantly, the company is heavily invested in the franchise’s future.

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Some have suggested that Solo‘s box office troubles can be pinned to the backlash that followed The Last Jedi‘s release in 2017. Others feel it’s a case of franchise fatigue; too many Star Wars movies in too short a period of time.

In my mind, there’s no merit at all to the backlash argument. The segment of the community that felt personally stung by The Last Jedi — which, to be clear, isn’t the same thing as not liking the movie — was loud, but is ultimately rather small. The outcry was largely the work of trolls more focused on sowing dissent than engaging in the critical conversation.

The franchise fatigue argument, on the other hand, feels reductive. There’s some merit to the idea that fans are current inundated with Star Wars things to a degree they haven’t known before. But in my own, admittedly anecdotal experience, I’m still plenty fired up for more Star Wars and so are all my geek friends.

Image: Lucasfilm ltd.

Ultimately, I think Solo‘s box office troubles stem from a number of different factors. The timing of the release just wasn’t great; Memorial Day weekend isn’t traditionally a big one for Hollywood. Marvel already has late April/early May staked out for its big annual splash, and some of the summer’s biggest tentpole releases tend to surface in the opening weeks of June.

Solo also had a troubled production, after the film’s original directors Christopher Lord and Phil Miller were fired and replaced with Ron Howard. That personnel change was shrouded in an aura of mystery and controversy, which bred doubt in the minds of a lot of fans.

Then there was the generally tepid response to Solo‘s marketing campaign, which focused on hinting at the ways the movie would cast a new light on familiar utterances and moments from the history of Star Wars. That issue, in the end, may be the biggest contributor to Solo‘s troubles.

Prequel stories like this just aren’t very interesting or exciting at the subconscious level. The movie is a Han Solo origin story, but we all know how Han, Chewbacca, Lando, these key players fare in the end. A movie like this can deliver loads and loads of fan service — and it does — but can it really surprise?

Not on a level that pushes mainstream audiences into theaters in huge numbers. Solo offered up plot points that are shocking to fans, but it wasn’t, and never could be, a surprising story. It’s a fan-pleaser, not a crowd-pleaser. And the box office reflects that.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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