Four decades. Nine releases. It’s become apparent the new Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story has been dealt a case all too familiar with Ben Affleck’s Batman VS Superman: Dawn Of Justice. (Read: the 2016 bomb that nearly cost the DC Universe it’s entire galaxy of creds. Thankfully Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman saved it.) On its release weekend, the Emilia Clarke and Alden Ehrenreich film opened to an all-time franchise-low with US$83.3 million (AUD$109 million) in box office sales in the United States.
To put this into perspective, Disney was hoping the film would gross US$101 million (AUD$133 million) – it is, after all, Memorial Day long weekend in America. In China, that figure was just a sad and measley US$10 million (AUD$13 million).
While Solo opened to competition from both Deadpool 2 and (Disney’s) Avengers Infinity War, it appears a title – even one as strong as Star Wars – just doesn’t hold any weight when its rolling credits don’t involve an original cast. Both aforementioned films cost less than the US$400 million it cost to make Solo; Deadpool 2 cleared US$125 million on its opening weekend while Avengers brought in US$16.5 million on its sixth. “Of course we would have hoped for this to be a bit bigger,” Dave Hollis, Disney’s US distribution chief, said of Solo’s opening figures. “We’re encouraged by the response that people have had to the film. It got a good CinemaScore (A-minus).”
So when it comes to the galaxy-far-far-away, is it a case of franchise fatigue? We did just see a Stars Wars film in December – and the two films before that were also headliners in the holiday season. Clarke – who has been on the global promotional trail for her film – says the pressure for it to do really well is ever-present on many fronts. “Money f***s us all up, doesn’t it?” she said. “There’s so much pressure. Han Solo is a really beloved character. This is a really important movie for the franchise as a whole. It’s a shit ton of money. A shit ton of people. A shit ton of expectations.”
Time will tell.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in Australian cinemas now.