Just why did Solo bomb at the box office?

Unfortunately Solo: A Star Wars Story has officially bombed at the box office with executives saying at the end of its theatrical run it will likely owe Disney between $50-$80 million. And there has been much speculation as to why. There has also been much discussion about why Disney decided to schedule Solo a mere five months after The Last Jedi when all the Star Wars films have been traditionally released in December.

This week Forbes has confirmed why they think this is the case.

Solo has been viewed as this years’ “sacrificial lamb” in the box office stakes as Disney vied for a better position for its “family friendly musical”, the sequel to the much-loved Julie Andrews classic original film Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt secured the coveted Christmas release due to the need for Disney to better position its live action features and give them a better chance at cracking the box office. And what better property than a family musical.

As Forbes reports: “It’s a live-action, female-led, female-targeted fantasy musical, which is as Disney as Disney gets. Moreover, Disney needs to make big live-action hits outside of the Star Wars and MCU offerings. They have struggled with that since the late 2000s, with only Pirates of the Caribbean sequels breaking out since National Treasure stopped at Book of SecretsJohn CarterThe Lone Ranger, Tomorrowland and A Wrinkle in Time show how it’s just as hard for Disney as anyone else to create new live-action franchises. The exception has been their run of live-action fairy tale flicks. If they can print money from the likes of Jungle Book, then they can afford to swing-n-miss with Solo or Wrinkle in Time.”

Many of Disney’s recent live action features (that haven’t been remakes or franchises such as MCU or Star Wars) have failed dismally at the box office. A few years ago the George Clooney starrer Tomorrowland tanked, earlier this year A Wrinkle in Time performed poorly.

Save for their animated features Disney have struggled to ignite a franchise outside the MCU and Star Wars, with the exception of the Pirates of the Caribbean films (the last two of which didn’t perform at all well). Disney have had more success moving their animated films to live action with Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Jungle Book, with many other properties planned such as a live action version of The Lion King coming out next year.

So this leaves the Ron Howard directed Solo out in the cold, but explains why the choice of release date has hampered the anthology film. It also begs the question, with Disney poised to take over 21st Century Fox films, will Disney have the luxury of positioning their films to obtain maximum box office in future? And are there just too many films coming out over the course of the year to sustain film production costs? As the cost of making and marketing a film increases when will the law of diminishing returns kick in?

Do you think the Star Wars franchise is losing steam already? Have your say in the comments below.

 

 

Adrian Drayton

Adrian Drayton is the Director of Reel Dialogue. A film critic and commentator on culture for 20 years, he believes in the power of cinema and the power of God to start conversations about faith and culture. He is also a massive Star Wars nerd.