Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
May 26, 2018
We talk a lot about superhero movie fatigue around these parts. But up until now, we've never really had to talk about Star Wars fatigue. Have we reached that point? Signs are pointing to yes.
After setting pre-sale records and starting with $14.1 million on Thursday night (a record for Memorial Day weekend), Solo: A Star Wars Story was only able to earn $35.6 million overall on Friday. There really isn't a way to paint this as a pretty picture. Disney lowered their estimates throughout the day, and it never got better. They're generally either conservative or dead on with expectations when they head into a weekend, so their prediction of $105 million for the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend was a massive downgrade from the original tracking projection of $150 million. Yeesh.
Let's look at it this way. The "true" Friday number for Solo is $21.5 million. That's right. It barely cracks the $20 million mark. If we just assume that the film matches that number for Saturday through Monday - we'll even call it $22 million - we are looking at $101.6 million. There's a chance, depending upon Saturday performance, that Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn't even crack the $100 million mark. I think that the final estimate will come in right where Disney's Friday projection was - $105 million. The studio has to be hoping for significantly better results over the remainder of the weekend, because right now, it really looks like most of the people who wanted to see the film bought their tickets in advance.
Oh, and we should also note that with this sort of opening, it's highly unlikely that Solo makes much more than $250 million total. That is... hugely disappointing, especially considering that Disney spent that much to get the film made, including reshoots and bringing in Ron Howard to take it in a direction that they were more comfortable with after letting Phil Lord and Christopher Miller go due to creative differences.
Should they have kept the hyper-creative duo? Perhaps. They're offbeat to be sure, but their innovative touches with franchises like The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street have proven to take those films far higher than anyone would have expected with regards to both box office and critical reception. With Howard at the helm, yes, you have something more potentially guaranteed, but was it? Solo is a rebel. Did they water his story down too much?
Alternately, it just might be possible that audiences weren't really to watch anyone portray this beloved character other than Harrison Ford. Look, he's Han Solo. He's Indiana Jones. If someone modernized Casablanca with someone other than Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, it would be blasphemy, and you'd expect the movie to fail miserably. (And rightfully so.) I can't help but wonder if Disney wouldn't have been better off creating a new story with different characters like they did in Rogue One. Also, I believe that the reaction to The Last Jedi probably had some impact here. A lot of the biggest Star Wars fans expressed displeasure about that film's direction. Did they take it out on Solo?
Finally, we know that Solo's reviews were pretty average, really. The Rotten Tomatoes rating of 71 percent for this one compared to 93 percent for The Force Awakens, 85 percent for Rogue One, and 91 percent for The Last Jedi just looks bad. On the plus side, the Cinemascore is an A-. The hope will be that people will speak fondly of it and it might have some staying power. At least it has a couple of weeks before The Incredibles 2 arrives to make everyone's summer fun.