Monday, May 28, 2018

Star Wars Has Flopped. Long Live Star Wars(?)

Yesterday I considered the possibility of Solo not just underperforming, but maybe winding up with a gross as low as $300 million. Far from being the #1 movie of the year as eight of the nine prior Star Wars films have been (the one exception was Attack of the Clones, which had to settle for #2), we might find it down at 30-something on the global list. Not Star Wars money, but Resident Evil money.

There seems little point to retreading the long, long list of factors working against the film, already covered at such length in so many places.1 But it does seem worth discussing what may come of it.

Here are some possibilities:

* There will not be a Solo 2 movie.

* No longer looking bulletproof, the Star Wars brand name will lose some of its luster.

* Solo will become a byword for how seemingly unstoppable franchises can go wrong.

* The current critical consensus that Solo was merely mediocre-to-decent will be forgotten because of the flop image, which will have people talking about it as if it were terrible instead. But over time there will be a backlash against the backlash, with defenders saying "It wasn't that bad," and finding things to like about it, and the movie eventually undergoing a measure of rehabilitation. However, well before then,

* We will see Disney play it safer in its choices. Even if they stick with the strategy, prequels about supporting or even minor characters (like Boba Fett) will be more modest efforts launched with less fanfare in safer periods. (A "mere" $100 million production in March, perhaps?) We will probably not see the studio serve up any more beat-the-audience-over-the-head-with-postmodernism of The Last Jedi variety, at least not in a mega-budgeted main series' story.

* Ron Howard will not be invited back to direct another Star Wars movie.

* People might begin joking about a "Curse of Emilia Clarke." (After all, she was aboard the not-so-good ship Terminator when it sank.) She'll certainly go on working. She might even be cast in blockbusters. But she probably won't be too prominent in any projects as chancy as this one was for some time to come.

1. Replacing Harrison Ford in the iconic role with another actor, and so soon after his character's dramatic on-screen death in Episode VII; the fact that a Han Solo prequel is fitter matter for an Expanded Universe novel intended for a small percentage of hardcore fans than a mass audience entertainment; that just five months after Episode VIII it may not just be too much Star Wars too soon, but a victim of the considerable ill will toward The Last Jedi; that the ultra-crowded, ultra-competitive summer movie season will make any misstep more costly; etc., etc., etc.

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