Weekend Box Office May 25-27: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Underperforms. What Happened?

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May 27th 2018

Disney/Lucasfilm's Solo: A Star Wars Story, recounting the early adventures of Han Solo, was the No. 1 film this weekend. It's no surprise there, but the real surprise was that it didn't come near the numbers that were projected for the film.

Early projections were that that would gross in the $150-170 million range domestically for the four-day holiday weekend. I believed them too. But as of Sunday, it grossed $83.3 million. It'll be lucky if the film reaches $100 million by the end of the holiday weekend. The film grossed $14 million in Thursday night previews and that was a box office record for a Memorial Day weekend. But that's less than half of the $29 million that was projected for the Thursday screenings, and Deadpool 2 grossed $18.6 million in its Thursday preview grosses. That $83.3 million will make it far and away the lowest-opening gross for any of the Disney Star Wars films. What's even worse than that is the film is practically tanking overseas, grossing a very disappointing $65 million.

Now normally,  any movie making over $83 million in a weekend would be a huge deal, but of course, we're talking about a Star Wars movie. You can put Star Wars in front of donut shop and there will be a line down that street and around the corner. Star Wars sells. So when people are not showing up as expected something has seriously gone wrong. So what happened? A few guesses:

Production problems: It's no secret that Solo had a lot going against it when its very well-publicized production problems came out in the open. The original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street and Lego animated films) were fired from the film four months into shooting and replaced by veteran director Ron Howard. Now, it's not actually uncommon for a director to be replaced during shooting. However, it almost always happens during the first week of shooting when the studios or producers realize from the footage shot that things are not going the way they like. But why did producer Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm wait four months into shooting before they pulled the plug on Lord and Miller? White privilege? Who knows?

Granted, Howard pulled off a Herculean task straightening out the problems caused by the original directors and reportedly reshot 80 percent of the movie, though there were sacrifices along the way -- most importantly, actor Michael K. Williams, who was replaced by Paul Bettany when Williams was unavailable for reshoots by Howard. But with all the well-documented chaos behind the scenes, it wouldn't be surprising that Star Wars fans suspected the film would be a major letdown and didn't rush out to see the movie and waited to hear from others if it was worth their time.

Miscasting: From the get-go, hardcore Star Wars fans were adamantly against actor Alden Ehrenreich playing the part of a young Han Solo. True, it was a difficult burden for any actor to play such an iconic role by iconic actor Harrison Ford, who firmly established Solo's persona to the public. No one really would have been up to the task. But Ehrenreich just fell way short of any mark. They said he looked nothing like Harrison Ford (true), didn't sound like him (true), was too short (true) and just didn't have the swagger that Ford gave the role (also true). Also, when reports came out that acting coaches were hired to help him to get into the Solo role, things were not looking good.

Just isn't good enough - The word from those who saw it isn't great and that word of mouth always makes or breaks a film. The criticisms range from a weak, boring story, to the miscasting, to Donald Glover and Thandie Newton not being used enough and just an overwhelming air of disenchantment.

Also even worse, this could be the first Star Wars film to actually flop at the box office. No one knows what the budget for Solo was as Lucasfilm is being very tight about that. But no doubt, it was a hell of a lot of money when you consider that Rogue One reportedly cost $265 million, and that's including the extensive reshoots that were done on the film during post-production. Almost all of Solo was reshot even before post-production, essentially shooting the film twice. So it wouldn't be surprising if the film reached at least $350-400 production cost, which means the film needs to make at least a billion worldwide before it breaks even. At the rate it's going, that's not going to happen.

Deadpool 2, which had a huge $125 million opening last weekend, dropped some 66 percent this weekend, but that was still good enough for second place with $42.7 million. It's made $207.4 million domestically so far and $487 million worldwide. In the meantime Avengers: Infinity War still keeps going and is in third place again this weekend with a domestic total of $621 million. It's the seventh-biggest grossing film domestically, and it could possibly overtake Black Panther, which is still the third-biggest domestic grosser and just less than $1.5 million away from hitting the $700 million mark domestically.

However, worldwide, Infinity War is now the fourth biggest grossing film ever and by next week, will easily become the third-biggest, overtaking The Force Awakens.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle Union's thriller Breaking In continues to make ground. While no one of course expected it to be a huge monster box office hit, it is quietly still pulling in the dough making to-date $35.6 million, which makes it a very profitable film for its low budget $6 production cost.

Full list:

1) Solo: A Star Wars Story BV $83,325,000
2) Deadpool 2 Fox $42,700,000 Total: $207,407,352
3) Avengers: Infinity War BV $16,494,000 Total $621,688,638
4) Book Club Par. $9,450,000 Total $31,834,516
5) Life of the Party WB (NL) $5,115,000 Total $39,102,348
6) Breaking In Uni. $4,055,000 Total $35,643,385
7) Show Dogs Global Road $3,078,235 Total $10,672,960
8) Overboard PNT $3,000,000 Total $41,494,413
9) A Quiet Place Par. $2,230,000 Total $179,993,607
10) RBG Magn. $1,120,000 Total $5,636,638
11) Rampage WB (NL) $802,000 Total $93,898,689
12) Super Troopers 2 Fox $600,000 Total $29,900,075

by Sergio Mims on May 27th 2018
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