Never tell Han Solo the odds. And given the woeful opening of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” Han might have a bad feeling about a few other less-than-stellar numbers, too.
“Solo” defied weeks of industry projections by landing below even conservative estimates, which had the first Skywalker-free “Star Wars” feature film opening in the ballpark of $130 million for the Memorial Day weekend.
Disney/Lucasfilm’s “Solo” instead had a $103 million domestic debut for the four-day holiday and grossed just $84.8 million for the standard three-day weekend — or barely one-third of what Disney’s first “Star Wars” reboot, “The Force Awakens,” opened to ($248 million) less than three years ago.
Even worse news for “Solo” was how badly it tallied overseas. Failing to gain much traction in such major markets as China ($10 million), “Solo” grossed only $65 million — or 39 percent of its total take — on foreign shores.
The $168 million worldwide debut is an especially poor showing when you consider that “Solo” — which required extensive reshoots after director Ron Howard took over for Phil Lord and Chris Miller — had a reported production cost of about $300 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
Some industry watchers will question the wisdom of the “Star Wars” spinoffs, but Disney’s first spinoff, 2016’s “Rogue One,” had a robust North American opening of $155 million and went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. (“Solo” would be fortunate to reach half that global total.)
And some skeptics may claim that the sour “Solo” box office points to “Star Wars” fatigue, but the true test of that won’t come for nearly 19 months, when J.J. Abrams’s “Star Wars: Episode IX,” the final installment of Disney’s first main trilogy, opens right before Christmas.
“Solo” is the first Disney “Star Wars” film not to open during the winter holidays and the first to open just five months after the previous “Star Wars” film.
Alden Ehrenreich, the title Star of “Solo,” has said he’s contractually signed for multiple “Star Wars” films, but “Solo’s” opening should cause Disney and Lucasfilm to become wary about which spinoff origin stories they tell going forward — and about how closely they cluster their movies.
Expect Lucasfilm to now steer clear of summers for the foreseeable future, and to re-evaluate whether a solo Han can uphold a multi-movie trajectory.