It's a kind of homecoming for Memorial Day, as a Star Wars movie premiers on the holiday weekend for the first time in 35 years, reclaiming it from the odd dates it's been roaming around even since the prequels. It's also the Star Wars film with the most tortured film process to date, and it's a near miracle it's arrived on screens in any condition at all.
Weekend Forecast for May 25-27, 2018
By Reagen Sulewski
May 25, 2018
Just five months after Episode VII, we get Solo, the latest in the stand-alone “Star Wars stories” that are expanding the universe until we get every character down to the Rancor Keeper in Return of the Jedi with their own story (though I'm looking forward to the Cantina Band movie done in the style of Jersey Boys). It's a prequel movie set between episodes III and IV, showing how Han Solo became the lovable smuggler and cynical rogue, and moving Forrest Gump like through some of the other more beloved characters in Star Wars lore, like Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian.
Solo is played by Alden Ehrenrich, and the film has unusual star power in the director's chair from Ron Howard, well, would that it were... would that it t'were... would that... it's complicated. Originally, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the mad geniuses behind Clone High, The Lego Movie and the 21 Jump Street reboot were signed on to direct, which always seemed like a weird fit. After dailies of the film started scaring execs at Disney thanks to their improvisational and comedic approach (and you hired them... why?), they were turfed in favor of the workmanlike Howard, who gave them a relatively straightforward approach to the film – but leading to having to re-shoot about 80 percent of the film. As such it's now the most expensive Star Wars film ever made at $250 million, though filming something twice does tend to add up.
Also starring Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson and the annoyingly talented Donald Glover as Lando, it looks like a rollicking space adventure, without a lot of the baggage of the mythos films. It's a Thor Ragnarok to the main series' Avengers films, in other words. The previous entry in the standalone films was Rogue One, which opened to $155 million in December of 2016, or about 2/3 a Star War. This film doesn't have Rogue One's tremendous reviews, and the baggage surrounding the film is a bit troublesome. However, that does seem to be overcome somewhat and Star Wars fans seem to be in a forgiving mood right now. I'd expect this to have a quite strong opening weekend of about $125 million, or $160 million over the Memorial Day Weekend.
Deadpool 2 was a slight step backwards from the first film in the R-rated, irreverent superhero franchise with its $125 million, though if you'd proposed that opening weekend prior to the first film opening up you'd think, “hey, Deadpool must have opened up to like, $60 million then!” So it's far, far ahead of where a normal assessment of this franchise would have been even with the fall off. That said, no studio likes to see their franchise decline. While this sort of result isn't the kind of thing that would squash a third film, it probably sends doubts into the mind of Fox about just how much more can be brought out of this character, or that they may need a significant rethink before we end up with Austin Powers Syndrome. I'd expect a large fall off to around $67 million this weekend.
It's three big fanboy movies at the top this weekend as Avengers: Infinity War cruises past the $600 million mark in its 4th week of release. It hasn't been leggy by any means – averaging a little more than 50 per cent each week – but that still means it's a good candidate for $700 million or more, depending on how quickly it loses screens to other summer films. There's a good chance they threw away $50 million or more with the April release, sacrificing weekday figures when school is out, but considering it's about to pass $2 billion worldwide... I think they'll deal. It should see about $16 million this weekend.
Book Club, the “elderly women read 50 Shades and rediscover sex” movie, was a mild surprise at $13 million, and feels like the kind of movie that could find legs – its audience isn't prone to rushing out first weekend. It's also not a super quality-sensitive audience, and we're likely to see a weekend of $9 million.