Let’s make it clear from the start that we liked Solo as can be seen in our review here but with the film having been out for over a week it’s only made $197m at time of writing against a projected budget of $250m and that’s not adding marketing costs on top. So what went wrong with Solo? and how would you relaunch the Star Wars franchise?
From the start the production was troubled with its directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord eventually sacked and replaced with a safe pair of hands Ron Howard. It’s rumoured that he then went on to reshoot much of what they had already done which only added to the films costs. The replacement of the pair of directors cheered many including Emilia Clarke who has been very open about it. The directors were far from wise to mess about with the production with a producer like Kathleen Kennedy at the helm. Having worked extensively with Spielberg on films including ET, Jurassic Park and War of the Worlds as well as other successes The Sixth Sense, Gremlins, Twister and Who framed Roger Rabbit? Highly respected she went to work for Disney themselves no slackers but equally with a no nonsense reputation. When directors leave a production it perhaps has a negative impression for prospective audiences as was seen with Justice League when its director Zak Snyder stepped down (although in fairness this was to do with a family tragedy) with Joss Whedon taking over.
The rumour poured out about its star Alden Ehrenrich needing acting lessons which hardly instills confidence and in fairness he lacks the bad boy rogue-ish charm of Harrison Ford and plays its more as a mischief making naughty boy. And either way he hardly channels Harrison Ford’s characteristics in the role.
If that wasn’t it then what went wrong with Solo?
With blockbuster season upon us its generally a rule of thumb that the behemoths are released 2 weeks apart for the films to make a big chunk before the next studio tentpool film is unleashed. Avengers Infinity War had opened four weeks before and stands at a huge $1.9 billion but that had little impact on Deadpool 2 opening two weeks later which has made a slightly less than expected $519m but is still doing business. But the demographic for both all these films is white male millenials and just round the corner is the Jurassic World sequel again catering for the same or similar audience.
Infinity War had the luxury of being the build up to the story that overarched all the other Marvel films and had been building to this moment something which Solo lacked as a standalone film. But that said Black Panther had opened two months before Infinity War and it has made $1.3 billion but the film was far different from anything in the Marvel cannon to date unlike Solo.
So if that wasn’t it what went wrong with Solo?
Perhaps then the problem is twofold. For Star Wars diehard fans Solo lacked anything to do with the Jedi mythology and neither did it have anything to with The Force and is more of a boys own adventure. It also didn’t help that the studio were set on a May 25th release as it would coincide with the release of the original Star Wars film in 1977 and ultimately this means nothing to anyone but the most nerdish of fan.Solo was released barely five months after The Last Jedi ( $1.3 billion earned )and was the fourth film in three years since Disney took over the franchise. Perhaps its Star Wars fatigue that has set in because Star Wars has owned Christmas each year with other films staying clear of being released too close. The new Star Wars films have become event movies for fans and perhaps therein lies much of the problem because Christmas 2018 big release is the Transformers spin off Bumblebee and studio juggle there release dates around and if Solo had come out in its usual Christmas slot it would have had a year’s gap and had the season to itself in the likelihood that Bumblebee would probably have moved its release date.
Either way Solo is likely to be the first Star Wars flop at the box office in terms of making a profit but it undoubtedly will make money for its Home Entertainment release, merchandising and TV revenue.
But maybe we’re wrong about what went wrong with Solo. What would you have done to ensure its success?