Sunday, May 27, 2018

Solo Flops?

BoxOfficeMojo has just reported,
With an estimated $83.3 million over the three-day weekend, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the weekend's #1 film and while Disney is currently anticipating a $101 million, the question remains as to whether it will be able to bring in enough to reach $100 million over the four-day holiday frame. Disney entered the weekend projecting a performance anywhere from $130-150 million for the four-day weekend and with a reported $300 million price tag before prints and advertising this weekend's performance is extremely disappointing.
Those who were doubtful about the demand for a movie about a young Han Solo, doubtful about shifting Star Wars back into the brutally competitive summer season (alas, brutally competitive against the very same company's own other films, its Marvel products), doubtful about putting out another Star Wars movie so soon again, just five months after The Last Jedi, against which there was such a backlash . . . this will be no surprise to any of them.

What comes next? Don't know. But let's say that the film does not prove impressively leggy; that the b.o. falls hard in the next couple of weeks. It's not inconceivable the movie will pull in just twice its opening weekend gross--$200 million at the North American box office. Additionally, Star Wars movies don't seem to do much more than match their domestic earnings abroad, even when they do really well at home. Say this one doesn't. It would fall short of the $400 million global mark. Really, really bad outcome? The movie doesn't quite match the long opening weekend gross, and the foreign markets don't match that. In that case, the global gross might be closer to $300 million than $400 million.

For many productions even that low, $300 million would be considered healthy. Great, even. Lots of films scoring in that range are considered hits, pure and simple. Certainly for the typical comedy it would be considered very solid inded. But by the standards of Star Wars, by the standards of movies budgeted at that highest, cash-profligate level with promotion to match ($300 million before advertising? You can't not consider that in the assessment), that's a very poor showing. "Flop" wouldn't be too strong a word. And even if the movie managed to do better than that, tripling or even quadrupling this first weekend take (a real long shot) it would still be the weakest performer since the series returned to the screen--in inflation-adjusted terms, the weakest entry in the series, period, by far. And, well, when all's said and done the cost can get to be twice the production budget, while the studio gets maybe half those ticket sales--so think a half billion dollar investment getting back $150-200 million. Even with the tax breaks and all the other revenue streams, getting to the break-even point may take a while, and Disney didn't lay out $4 billion for Lucasfilm ($4 billion!) just to break even on investments like this.

Of course, this wouldn't kill the franchise. Star Wars will survive a flop, the same as other long-running franchises have. (After all, how many underperforming sequels did not just the likes of James Bond, but Alien and Terminator survive?) Still, it might slow it down somewhat, might mean a delay on Episode IX, might mean that some of the anthology movies will be bumped along or dropped altogether.


Naturally I'll have more to say on this as the story unfolds.

Peter Biskind and Star Wars
Anticipating Solo?
Book Sale
Now on Google Books . . . (Star Wars in Context: Second Edition)
Some of What I've Been Up to Lately (NYRSF, SSRN, Star Wars in Context: Second Edition)
Making Sense of B.O.
Just Out . . . The End of Science Fiction?
Just Out . . . (The Many Lives and Deaths of James Bond, 2nd edition)
Just Out. . . (James Bond's Evolution)
Just Out . . . (The Forgotten James Bond)
Just Out: After the New Wave: Science Fiction Today
Preview Cyberpunk, Steampunk and Wizardry
My Posts on Star Wars

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