There is a great disturbance at the box office…
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi dividing the fans like never before, our team here at Future of the Force were looking to Solo: A Star Wars Story to reunify the once solid fan base and deliver another stellar box office hit. With the majority of our team absolutely LOVING Ron Howard’s addition to the Star Wars universe, it seemed a glut of box office revenue was waiting in the wings.
And then, this past weekend Solo: A Star Wars Story delivered a below expectations opening at the worldwide box office, bringing in just $148,325,000 around the world. With estimates for North America alone being touted at $175 million, the film brought in a disappointing $83 million over the three-day weekend. Its fortunes fared little better from the rest of the globe, and with the film opening almost everywhere on May 25th it added just $65 million worldwide.
It is an alarming return. One that will be ringing alarm bells in the boardroom at Disney.
So, what has happened to the Star Wars franchise?
Unfortunately, a combination of factors is hitting Star Wars where it hurts. First off is the controversial reaction to The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson’s brave new take on the galaxy far, far away, despite receiving critical acclaim split the fans in two and gave the disillusioned amongst us – those who were firmly against the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney all the evidence they needed and legitimized their fears that the house of mouse would ruin the saga. Furthermore, is the calendar switch. The last three outings from the Star Wars universe have dominated the Christmas period and upheld the special essence of the saga. This afforded the franchise that special quality – a period where our festive calendar was accentuated by a brand-new Star Wars film. Launching Solo: A Star Wars Story towards the end of May, between the release of both Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 was a bizarre move by Disney – one that is taking its toll on the box office return.
Another MAJOR issue has been the merchandising. Unlike our American cousins, the UK has seen very little in the way of merchandise arriving on our shelves. Whereas the United States were treated to a “Force Friday” event in mid-April, the struggling fans of the UK and Europe are yet to see a launch for even the most basic assortment of action figures and vehicles. The UK branch of the Disney Store finally received their stock allocation last week – almost six weeks after the USA but received a trivial amount and nowhere near enough to meet demand.
What’s more, the newly redesigned Millennium Falcon – an icon of the franchise has yet to appear on any of our shelves. Nor has Han Solo’s new M-68 Corellian Speeder, or even the Swoop Bike ridden by notorious pirate, Enfys Nest. In truth, it has been a dismal performance from Disney and Hasbro.
Furthermore, the oversaturation of Star Wars material could well be affecting the appetite of the casual moviegoer. Over the last three years, we have had a twelve-month period between instalments, but this year the respite has been less than five months. If this is shape of things to come, Disney may well find the bottom falling out from under them.
And finally, the marketing for Solo: A Star Wars Story has been nothing short of abysmal. Aside from the trailers and the glut of new TV Spot’s there has been very little in the way of true advertising for a movie which should be promoted from here to the ends of the earth. Television coverage has been restricted to blink and you miss it ten second clips and the traditional merchandising tie-ins have failed to materialize. How the marketing team at Disney concocted this short-sighted approach baffles the mind. Future of the Force, like many of our fellow outlets have campaigned tirelessly to afford Solo: A Star Wars Story every chance of success, and yet Disney have failed to arrive at the table.
The Star Wars franchise deserves better. As does director Ron Howard. His efforts on Solo have paid off spectacularly and the movie is proving to be a hit amongst the fans who paid for their tickets. But with auditoriums only half full and casual viewers put off by oversaturation, and the controversial exertions of The Last Jedi – the Star Wars universe is in deep turmoil.
George Lucas, in his profound wisdom bent over backwards to listen to the fans. It was his mandate. He understood that the franchise hinged on our responses, and this is a lesson Disney needs to learn – and fast.
Help us Disney…you’re our only hope!
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Source: Box Office Mojo