As January came to a close, and Solo: A Star Wars Story scheduled to arrive in May, fans were starting to get nervous that Disney and Lucasfilm hadn't done, well, any promotion for the film. Bar a few leaked images here and there, and director Ron Howard posting vague behind-the-scenes imagery on social media, marketing for the Anthology film was shockingly absent. Then the Super Bowl arrived, bringing the first footage form the movie followed the next day by the film's first trailer. Just that little bit of a glimpse at the movie inspired a sense of optimism as soon as it arrived and, more importantly, genuine excitement from the fanbase.
The trailer didn't give away too much, nor did it offer too little in teasing Han Solo's (Alden Ehrenreich) early days with Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). However, the question remains: Why did it take Disney so long to start marketing the film? The trailer had the right tone in terms of humor, intensity and action, so the studio should have been promoting it more, right?
Earlier rumors suggested the delay was due to Disney waiting for the hype of The Last Jedi to wear off, but considering we live in an age where studios are promoting films several installments down the line (Disney's already releasing trailers for the Marvel films to come after Black Panther, which doesn't open until later this week), many fans believed Solo should have been capitalizing on the critical and financial success of Rian Johnson's movie in order to increase its own buzz.
That said, there are actually a few reasons as to why the studio may have waited this long to put material out for scrutiny. The first thing that comes to mind is quality. Look no further than what Warner Bros. endured with Justice League. It was inconsistent in terms of tone, look and special effects, emphasizing the fact that in the end, it was a vision of two directors, Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon, that just didn't mesh. In the case of Solo, Disney may have been exercising caution so as to not make this same mistake after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired and Howard was brought on to finish the movie.
Star Wars has a very high standard to maintain so the franchise simply cannot afford to slip up like the prequel trilogy did. Given the praise the trailer's receiving, this patient approach appears to be paying dividends, as fans can tell that Howard's team has been working hard in post-production. An Academy Award winning director wouldn't want to tarnish his reputation by putting out an underwhelming and rushed Hollywood popcorn flick, after all.
Another reason for holding back the marketing could be due to public relations. If Disney had put out Solo first-looks that fell flat, this could have riled fans who were already sympathizing with Lord and Miller as the indie filmmakers that got canned by the big Hollywood machine. When you fire such fresh, young blood and hire a big-name director, there is a chance that you might end up looking like a corporate monster, especially if you go on to then get the movie wrong.
Holding off on the promotional front like this would have taken unnecessary pressure off Howard and allowed him time to isolate himself and perfect the product. We must remember that Tony Gilroy came in to do reshoots and rewrites on Gareth Edwards' Rogue One just six months before it hit theaters in December 2016, and while this turned out to be a success, both fans and the studio were very apprehensive before it hit cinemas. All these things may well have driven Disney and Lucasfilm studio execs to play the waiting game until they got to a point where they had something they were confident in before placing it in the public spotlight.
Solo: A Star Wars Story will be released in theatres on May 25th. The film is directed by Ron Howard and stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett and Joonas Suotomo as Chewbacca.