Is the (relatively) sluggish start for Solo: A Star Wars Story problematic for Disney? Will they be able to recover from this “bust” at the Box office? Mild spoiler alert ahead for Solo: A Star Wars Story
Some news outlets are framing this slump as evidence that franchise fatigue has finally set in for a property used to pulling in billions with a new release. Others are saying this is a sign that the character-prequel model is an abject failure that was always destined to be a miss with all but the most committed fans.
While there is likely an element of truth to both, these perspectives fail to recognize the long view that Disney is, and always has been, taking. The real question is whether Solo’s debut has thrown a wrench into those plans.
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First, the movie is not going to be a commercial flop. With a budget rumored to be over $250 million (thanks in large part to its well-documented production issues), the film has its work cut out for it, but after making about half of that up over its first three days, it would take a nearly unprecedented summer slump for the movie to stay in the red.
The global market, particularly China, has been bullish on Star Wars for years, but the domestic earnings alone should net Solo a tidy, if unimpressive profit.
While Lucasfilm will likely avoid immediate embarrassment, it remains to be seen how Solo’s lukewarm reception will affect the long-term health of the franchise.
Not all content is cinematic. Han and Chewie working together to set each other free? Cinematic. Significant background on the history of Han’s homeworld of Corellia and its problems? Perhaps better left to a book. Both are important to the development of Han’s character, but only the former has value to the casual movie-goer.
And while the studio is taking a hard look in the mirror, fans have an important question to ask themselves: what can we rightfully expect from a movie with the Star Wars logo on it and how do those expectations change when the word Story is tacked on?
There’s no question in my mind, and most other critics’ that the Story movies are less relevant than the mainline entries. Both Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story are fun films that expand the series lore in essential ways, but neither has the cultural impact of any film with Jedi and Sith lords running about.
The question that everyone is deciding, for better or worse, is how much do we care? As a fan, I’m glad that we’re getting more content to gobble up, even though I consider the Story movies to be secondary content. But I’m not bank-rolling them.
What I do know is that, for an exec at Lucasfilm, $250 million is a considerable investment for a bonus movie.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is playing in theaters, worldwide.