Solo, the latest entry in Disney’s new woke-ified Star Wars franchise, is projected to open at just $130 million this weekend, and this is a three-day weekend with Memorial Day. The high-end projection is $150 million.
Even more humiliating is the fact that the current Memorial Day weekend record holder is the third chapter in Johnny Depp’s Pirates franchise, At World’s End, which opened to $140 million a full ten years ago.
A mere five months ago Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened to $220 million. Even Rogue One, which did not have Solo’s advantage of being about the franchise’s mythical characters (Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca), opened to $155 million in December of 2016.
Not helping Solo are four things.
1) In a franchise with a long history of troubled productions, this one stands out. Ron Howards is credited as the sole director, but only after he came in well into production to not only finish shooting the outstanding scenes, but to re-shoot 70 percent of what had already been shot.
2) The reviews have been ho-hum at best. Even the best reviews feel a tad backhanded.
3) The Last Jedi, while a huge success, was also a disappointment. The feminist politics were not only overbearing, they hurt the storytelling, which in so many places either made no sense or went nowhere. Ultimately, Last Jedi flamed out at the box office a lot sooner than anyone expected with a haul of $620 million, which means a Star Wars movie made less money than Black Panther, and a full $300 million less than its predecessor, The Force Awakens.
If you adjust for inflation, The Last Jedi grossed $200 million less than The Phantom Menace, which pretty much everyone hated.
4) With the absurd announcement that Solo introduces Lando as a “pansexual,” which means he will have sex with everyone and everything, including, presumably, a skillet, makes this feel like yet another Star Wars saga preaching about sexual stuff no one cares about, especially in a Star Wars movie, and no one wants to expose their children to.
One important distinction is that this “record low” opening for the franchise is since its reboot with Disney.
Nevertheless, the news is not much better when compared to the previous trilogy. On much fewer screens, and not on a three-day weekend, when adjusted for inflation, the Phantom Menace opened to $114 million (2970 screens) in 1999, Attack of the Clones opened to $126 million (3161 screens) in 2002, and Revenge of the Sith opened to $153 million (3663 screens) in 2005.
Solo is opening on 4400 screens and in a much more front-loaded environment than there was a decade ago.