Box Office for ‘Solo’: A Great Disturbance in the Force
Did you know “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is the first “Star Wars” movie to open in more 4,300 theaters? Twenty other movies have done that—superhero movies, mostly—but none were in the “Star Wars” franchise. The previous biggest for “SW” was the last one, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which opened in 4,232 theaters last December and grossed $220 million over three days.
“Solo” opened this weekend in a little more than that, 4,381 theaters, and grossed a little less than that: an estimated $83 milliion.
How does that rank? Among the 21, it's 16th-best. That's not supposed to happen to “Star Wars” movies.
How does it rank among “Star Wars” openings? Harder to judge. The first one, after all, opened in 1977 in 43 theaters. Unadjusted, “Solo” is fifth-best. But the three other “Star Wars” movies that opened north of 4,000 theaters grossed the following: $247, $220 and $155 million. $83 looks pretty flimsy by comparison. Call it a great disturbance in the Force. It's as if millions of voices suddenly said “Nah” and walked away and did something else.
The question is why.
I assume it's a combination of “Star Wars” fatigue, some mild disappointment in recent “Star Wars” movies, and lukewarm reviews. The movie had a troubled birth, too. Original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”) were fired early in the project and Ron Howard was tapped to step in. Much felt unimaginative about it. Emilia Clarke—again? Woody Harrelson—again? One of the biggest complaints I heard was casting Alden Ehrenreich as the young Solo. He's a good-looking kid, but he often plays wide-eyed (“Rules Don't Apply”) or wider-eyed (“Hail, Caesar!”). He doesn't exactly have the knowing smirk of Harrison Ford. I guess the movie is how he acquired that smirk but that's not what people want to see. People want to see Harrison Ford.
Is this one of those instances where the actor matters? Stephen Metcalf has a piece in the latest New Yorker entitled “How Superheroes Made Movie Stars Expendable: The Hollywood overhauls that got us from Bogart to Batman.” For anyone who's been paying attention, it's sort of a no-shit-Sherlock headline. At the same time, the actor replacing the actor who previously played the character has to be right. Good luck, for example, finding a new Iron Man. Or, apparently, a new Han Solo.