With just a bit less than two months to go before its release, the first long range tracking box office projections for Solo: A Star Wars Story are coming in, and things don’t look promising for the Star Wars spinoff.
While an opening three-day weekend figuring of approximately $150 million is being forecast for Solo, it is looking as if its total domestic gross could only fall somewhere in the $350 to $475 million range.
In comparison franchise restart Star Wars: The Force Awakens made $247.9 million its opening weekend and a $936.6 total domestic box office in 2015, Rogue One, the first of the Star Wars spinoffs, earned $155 million its opening weekend and nearly $532.2 million total domestic. Last year’s The Last Jedi had opening weekend that grossed $220 million domestically and topped out at $620 million.
If Solo has a similar run internationally as the three previous Star Wars films have had, then based on these early projects it could ultimately top out at around $950 million worldwide. That would make it the first film in the relaunched Star Wars franchise to not break the $1 billion mark.
There are a number of factors that are being looked at as to why Solo might not pass what has become a standard milepost for the franchise. The first is its placement on the release calendar. While the original and prequel Star Wars trilogies were initially released in the month of May, the relaunched franchise had at first staked out December for its bows. Solo was to have been the first of the new Star Wars films to move back to that end of May timeframe. (When JJ Abrams took over the reins of Star Wars: Episode IX, that film’s originally scheduled May 2019 release was pushed back to seven months to December 2019.) Disney has moved its Avengers: Infinity War up a week from May 4 to April 27 to give that film a longer run at the box office before Solo debuts. However, Fox has their superhero comedy Deadpool 2 opening on May 18, just a week before Solo, and if that film does well with its target audience of older males, strong word of mouth could potentially eat into Solo’s potential ticket buyers the following weekend. After that, though, Solo doesn’t appear to have any strong competition until June 15 when Disney releases Pixar’s The Incredibles 2.
Disney has also been fairly silent when it comes to marketing Solo. To date there has only been a Super Bowl commercial and a teaser trailer that utilized some of the same footage. Both were released in February and nothing more since then, so it is easy to see why there would not yet be much public awareness and anticipation for the film.
This lack of advertising push has been seen by some as a deliberate move on Disney’s part to allow The Last Jedi to fully run its course from theatrical release through to home video. As the film finally appeared on stores shelves this last week, it is possible we will see the start of a big Solo advertising push soon.
Solo has been a bit of a problem child of late for Lucasfilm. Last year, original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were summarily fired from the film fairly late in the production schedule after reported clashes with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy over their work process. Ron Howard was brought in for what was initially described as a few weeks of reshoots to finish the film. More recent reporting suggests that a large portion of the film may have been reshoot altogether. Howard is now receiving the official director’s credit on solo while Lord and Miller will receive an executive producers credit.
But outside of the genre press, the behind-the-scenes kerfuffles haven’t received much traction with the average movie-going public, so it is doubtful that those stories are having any negative impact on Solo‘s tracking.
So, can Solo break even for Disney even if it makes $950 million? While the studio has not released any budgetary figures for the film, insiders have suggested that Solo initially had something close to the same $200 million budget that Rogue One had. However, that is before the cost of the extensive reshoots are figured in. The film’s price tag won’t necessarily double as some costs such as set construction and visual effects won’t need to be paid twice. But there’s a lot of costs in terms of crew, material and soundstage rental that will be added onto the film’s final cost. If the current projections hold and don’t drop and international box office follows the same route that previous franchise installments have, it could squeak into the black. However, if the film’s box office falls short of what is already being projected than the film could struggle to cross the line to profitability.
As always, it should be noted that these are early projections and as Solo’s release date looms closer adjustments will be made based on things such as swings in social media mentions and advanced ticket sales.