'Solo' sputters in takeoff at box office with $83.3M

'Solo' sputters in takeoff at box office with $83.3M

Contrary to most event pictures, Star Wars movies are not driven by offshore turnstiles.

Typically, one would not complain about an opening weekend north of $100 million, but the $101 million fetched by the latest installment in the Star Wars universe over the entire Memorial Day weekend is, indeed, hugely disappointing.

Analysts had predicted the Disney/Lucasfilm project - directed by Ron Howard and with Alden Ehrenreich as a young version of the swashbuckling Han Solo - would reach US$130 million to US$150 million, possibly setting a Memorial Day weekend record. "Solo" grossed $65 million internationally in its opening weekend, including a paltry $10.1 million in China.

Maybe it's just that Solo's ticket sales were down from the start, but its stamina for the weekend is rather steady, with the three-day total only being 2.33-times the Friday attendance. While Solo establishes Qi'ra's past with Han on their homeworld, Corellia, it also leaves several aspects of her history to be revealed at a later time. In the days ahead of release, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said a Lando movie is a possibility.

A key will be for Lucasfilm to rebuild that cool factor by the time Star Wars: Episode IX is released on December 20, 2019.

This has led to a general apprehension to the film, which received generally much colder reviews than what typically greets Disney's Star Wars films, as well as Disney's popular Marvel Studios output.

The magic around a "Star Wars" film may be fading. The Disney and Lucasfilm prequel opened with a debut estimated around $83.3 million over three days and $101 million over four domestically, and even less overseas.

"Rogue One" had its own drama, as director Gareth Edwards had to take a backseat to the more experienced helmer Tony Gilroy during the reshoots of the movie, and that went on to earn over $1 billion at the global box office.

Paramount's comedy Book Club, a ideal kind of counter-programming to the superheroes and space scoundrels in theaters, brought in $9.45 million and fell just 30% from its previous weekend. Unsurprisingly, the prosperous motion picture trio all inhabit the superhero genre: Deadpool 2 ($125M), Black Panther ($202M) and Avengers: Infinity War ($257M).

And there's enough positive spin to work on Solo to make its performance look better to the masses, if not Disney's shareholders and anyone paying attention to the tracking promising a lot higher grosses.

It's not often - i.e. ever - that you see the words "Star Wars" and "box office bomb" in the same sentence, but...

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