The dust has barely settled on the Memorial Day weekend box office, but Disney is already trying to determine what lessons can be learned from the disappointing opening of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The most expensive installment of the franchise to date, with a production budget that ballooned to more than $250 million, Solo struggled to earn $103 million domestically over the four-day holiday weekend. Overseas, the Ron Howard film made a dismal $65 million, and was effectively dead on arrival in China, where even The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi struggled.
That's the worst opening for a Star Wars film since Disney revived the franchise in 2015, following its purchase of Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. At its current rate Solo may be lucky to limp past $400 million, a shocking turn for a property that once seemed virtually bullet-proof.
In its post-mortem, The Hollywood Reporter notes that while Disney is high unlikely to back away from its ambitions plan for one Star Wars movie a year, Solo's stumble will all but ensure the studio doesn't release future installments quite so close together. While The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi each spaced a year apart, barely five months passed between the premieres of The Last Jedi and Solo.
There are also questions about whether Solo was further harmed by its release on the heels of two other blockbusters, Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War and Fox's Deadpool 2.
"There's a question of frequency, and how many times people will go to the movies," Dave Hollis, Disney's president of worldwide theatrical distribution, told THR. "Is this too much and too soon for a third time in a five-week period?"
Acknowledging Solo's grim international box office, he added, "We are all over it and will spend a lot of time digging into why things happened the way they did in various markets. We have a year and a half before Episode IX comes out."
In theaters now, director Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. They’re joined by Thandie Newton as Val, Phoebe Waller-Bridge L3-37, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, and Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett.