‘Solo: A Star Wars Story.’
The top brass at Disney/Lucasfilm are pondering why Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t fly anywhere near as high as they expected in the US and internationally, including Australia, last weekend.
The origin story scripted by father and son Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan, which reportedly carries the hefty price tag of $US300 million, ranked at No. 1 in most territories but it was just the fourth-biggest opening weekend of the year in Oz.
The estimated four-day take of $US103 million over the Memorial Day weekend in the US was around $US30 million less than most pundits predicted.
Among the theories for the underperformance: The short, five month interval since Star Wars: The Last Jedi (a proximity which doesn’t affect the Marvel Comics Universe blockbusters); Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War sucking a lot of oxygen out of the market; the fact that, as Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t look like a young Harrison Ford; and the less favourable release date, unlike Force Awakens, Last Jedi and Rogue One which faced less competition during the year-end holidays.
It’s likely few people were bothered that Ron Howard took over as the director mid-shoot with the abrupt departure of Chris Lord and Phil Miller, whose penchant for improvisation evidently didn’t sit well with the franchise overlords.
In Australia the weekend BO dipped by 10 per cent to $17 million, according to Numero, as the sci-fi adventure which co-stars Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton and Woody Harrelson drummed up $6.6 million on 780 screens.
Underlining the origin story’s wavering appeal, the UK was the top international market with $10.3 million followed by China’s mediocre $10.1 million.
Disney’s outgoing worldwide distribution chief Dave Hollis told Deadline.com: “We came into the beginning of the year with this one of the most anticipated films. We gotta spend some time looking at the exits and get a better handle on all the questions.”
Wallis Cinemas programming manager Sasha Close points to the release date, telling IF: “A week after Deadpool 2 is a big ask for any film, even one based on the most well-known and record-breaking franchise. Deadpool 2 had the advantage of critical and fan approval and opening in its wake has proven a tough challenge.”
Close behind in Oz was Fox/Marvel’s Deadpool 2, which raked in $5.9 million in its second outing, falling by 53 per cent. The superhero action/comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz and T.J. Miller has amassed $24.4 million here and a phenomenal $US498 million worldwide.
Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War ranked third, collecting $1.2 million in its fifth weekend, advancing to $58.9 million. The global total of $1.9 billion is a record for the MCU superheroes canon and the fourth biggest of all time.
Life of the Party, the Warner Bros. comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, climbed to $4.3 million after earning $593,000 in its third weekend, falling by a reasonable 33 per cent.
Catalan writer-director Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop, an adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novella about a young widow (Emily Mortimer) who scandalises a Suffolk town in the 1950s by opening a bookshop and selling controversial fiction, checked in with a respectable $537,000 on 123 screens with previews, released by Transmission Films.
Word-of-mouth is sustaining Simon Baker’s coming-of-age drama Breath, which collected $285,000 in its fourth weekend (off 27 per cent), banking $3.5 million for Roadshow.
Mike Newell’s WW2 romance/thriller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society reached $5.9 million after earning $248,000 in its sixth weekend for StudioCanal, easing by 24 per cent.
Duck Duck Goose, an animated comedy directed by Christopher Jenkins, the tale of a high-flying bachelor goose named Peng (Jim Gaffigan) who is injured in flight and is saddled with two demanding ducklings (Zendaya, Lance Lim), laid an egg, drawing $221,000 on 164 screens for Roadshow.
Chinese romantic comedy How Long Will I Love You fetched $192,000 in its second outing on just 19 screens, rising by 21 per cent, scoring $453,000 thus far for the Tangren Cultural Group.
The Amy Schumer comedy/drama I Feel Pretty is on its last legs, taking $141,000 in its sixth weekend, minting an impressive $9.1 million for eOne.