Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Directed By: Ron Howard
- Written By: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan
- Release Date: May 25, 2018
- Domestic Distributor: Disney
- Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton
Box Office Info:
|Budget: N/A||Financed by: Disney|
|Domestic Box Office: $213,767,512||Overseas Box Office: $179,095,231|
To begin with, there is no official budget listed for Solo: A Star Wars Story. The project went into production under the coded UK company name Stannum 50 Labs and eventually Disney will release a required up to date financial report filing for that company, which will list all revenue spent on the film. You will be able to find that filing here. This article will be updated when the actual budget is listed. In the meantime, an estimated budget north of $250M will be the frame of reference here.
Disney’s model of releasing fewer films, but with colossal budgets looking for colossal returns, requires each of their movies to reach near record breaking box office numbers to get into the black — and an underperformer like Solo: A Star Wars Story could top out at nearly a massive $400M worldwide and ultimately fall nine figures short in theatrical receipts. So how the hell does a movie like Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was a blueprint for success, pull in about $600M less than the previous spin off Rogue One?
Quality? It would be easy to point to a broken movie if the quality was abysmal, but despite the much publicized firing of original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the movie landed decent reviews and strong audience scores.
Release date? When studios are releasing giant tent-poles week after week, the market will inevitably bloat. With Deadpool 2 released the weekend prior, Disney’s own Avengers: Infinity War released four weeks earlier (and still pulling in auds) and Disney’s Incredibles 2 booked for three weeks later — the market share for Solo was under intense competition, plenty of which was from its own studio.
Too close to The Last Jedi? Another speculative argument was the close proximity to the previous Star Wars release Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, which opened only 5 months earlier and actually concluded its theatrical run on April 19, 2018 — only one month before Solo: A Star Wars Story.
It’s just a spin off? There’s the usual rule of diminishing returns for a spin off. Outside of the main Episodes’ narrative, a spin off will inevitably have a more narrow audience, as that’s the nature of the beast — it’s an extraneous story that couldn’t exist without its parent narrative. It’s not must-see material for those who are not enamored with the Star Wars universe.
Yes, a less crowded place on the calendar would have certainly helped Solo, but it’s doubtful it would have added over $600M in worldwide receipts to reach the box office of Rogue One. If anything, Solo has shown that audience interest in all things Star Wars actually has a ceiling and ultimately like all massive money losers, it boils down to gross overspending. Even if the original directors completed their almost finished production before they were terminated and Ron Howard reshot nearly the entire picture — the budget was still originally set near $200M, with a global P&A spend set to be far north of $150M. A break even point requires complete global market domination.
Disney released Solo: A Star Wars Story over the Memorial Day frame — which of course was the frame each of the original movies opened on. It was the only wide release opener and was tracking to bring in up to $170M over the 4-day holiday period. It disappointed with $103,016,812 ($84,420,489 over the 3-day weekend) — absolutely incredible numbers, if the film did not cost such a gargantuan amount. Solo then took a 65.2% nosedive to $29,396,882 the following weekend — despite only lower budgeted fare opening — Adrift, Upgrade and Action Point. Solo closed its domestic run with $213,767,512.
Solo also struggled in the international market, where the film pulled in a fraction of previous Star Wars installments. The offshore cume stalled at $179M. The worldwide total was $392.8M and Disney would see returned about $216M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would cover the global P&A blitz, but leave most of the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.