What did people see?
The decision to make a Han Solo prequel was always a questionable one, and Ron Howard stepping in to finish a movie started by Phil Lord and Chris Miller did not help get people on board. Over these last few months of trailers and spots, I’ve asked some of the biggest Star Wars fans I know whether they’re excited about Solo, and have received a few different variations of “meh” in response. The unenthusiastic critical and audience response cemented it. As it stands, more than half of these friends of mine have not seen the movie yet, and will probably wait until they can stream it on Netflix. The theatre I watched it in had somewhere between 10 and 15 people, and that was opening day.
And in spite of all that, I was convinced that the Star Wars brand name alone would push Solo: A Star Wars Story past a 100 million opening weekend. But in a disappointment reminiscent of last year’s Justice League, the movie ended up with 84.42 domestically. Internationally, it fared even worse, which is less surprising. Star Wars was an American cultural phenomenon, unlike, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is more global in its appeal.
Speaking of which, Avengers: Infinity War only dropped 41.3% this weekend, a significantly smaller drop than had been expected for a long time. Deadpool 2 took a bigger hit, making 65.4% less than its opening weekend haul. It has now almost crossed half a billion worldwide, while Infinity War is fast approaching the 2 billion mark.
What did people like?
The weekend’s only notable release was Solo: A Star Wars Story, which has a Metascore of 62. On Rotten Tomatoes, 70% of critics gave it a positive review. The critics consensus reads: “A flawed yet fun and fast-paced space adventure, Solo: A Star Wars Story should satisfy newcomers to the saga as well as longtime fans who check their expectations at the theater door.”
With a mildly positive CinemaScore of A-, it appears that general audiences agree with that sentiment. For context, the last 3 Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi each got an A, while the 3 prequels shared Solo’s grade of A-. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only 4 out of their 19 movies have CinemaScores A- or lower. Over at Pixar, Cars 2 is the only one of their 19 films to stumble down to that score. From every direction, critical, public, and box office, the message is clear: Star Wars can do better.