There has been a lot of talk and debate online recently trying to pinpoint just exactly why Solo: A Star Wars Story was such a box office flop with multiple theories, viewpoints and explanations given.
In this opinion piece, I will try to disseminate the information available, discuss some of the most outlandish theories and give my own humble opinion.
Box Office Performance
The main, and possibly only way, we can judge a movie as a flop or success is by its box office performance. As always the brilliant Midnights Edge has an informative unbiased breakdown of its box office numbers.
Replacing directors Lord and Miller with Ron Howard meant that Disney was effectively paying for 2 movies which brought the production costs of Solo: A Star Wars movie to an estimated $350m.
This means Solo will have to amass around $700m worldwide to break even and hit $800 million to be classed as a success. With a second-week domestic box office of $29.6m which was a 65% drop in revenue the $700m target now seems unreachable and has sealed Solo’s fate as a flop.
Star Wars Fatigue
Many online outlets have pointed out that fans are suffering from Star Wars fatigue. The fact that Solo came out just a short time after The Last Jedi. The fact that with the new trilogy and the anthology spin-off movies, we are now receiving at least a Star Wars movie every year if not two a year is too much for fans of the franchise.
A movie franchise that is renowned worldwide for its passionate fans and money making core audience now seems to have turned into an apathetic and merchandise averse community.
Fans feel like they are nothing more but a cash cow to be milked constantly. Not just with movies every year but with the merchandise that accompanies each movie. A prime example of this would be C3-PO having a red arm in The Force Awakens. This visual change to C3-PO was never explained in the movies. there was, however, a companion piece comic book series that explained it.
Even with the explanation, many fans saw C3-PO new arm as nothing more than a small change that sold a new C3-PO action figure and merchandise. An opinion that was given credence as in the comic book C3-PO vows to wear the red arm as a remembrance to a fallen droid but in The Last Jedi he no longer has it and is back to his usual gold.
This unashamed and open attack on fans wallets as done nothing to adhere lifelong fans of the franchise to part with their hard-earned cash and in some ways has attributed to the flop that is Solo: A Star Wars Movie.
Star Wars Battlefront 2
Following from the movie fatigue of episode 7 and it audacious merchandising came the absolute car crash that was the launch of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2.
The game was hyped so much throughout the gaming community and promised to address some of the problems raised by gamers with its predecessor. Whilst gameplay issues such as a single player campaign were addressed, the introduction of a ridiculous level system that meant to remain competitive in the game fans had to spend massive amounts of real-world cash on microtransactions or be doomed to lose out to those who were willing to play.
This loot box system was implemented so badly that not only did fans of the franchise feel that after initially paying out £60 or more for the game it essentially became pay to win but it also led to many governments around the world either classing or debating whether or not loot boxes were a form of gambling.
Microtransactions and loot boxes have existed in gaming for a while now but the almost slot machine mechanic of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot boxes only further attributed to the feeling of being bled dry by the Star Wars franchise
The Last Jedi Backlash
A massive contributing factor, in my opinion, to the Solo being such a box office flop is the fan reaction to The Last Jedi. So many lifelong Star Wars fans, myself included, feel that there is so much wrong with The Last Jedi.
- The writers behind the new trilogy don’t understand the characters and what makes the Star Wars universe great.
- Complete ignores or throws away everything that The Force Awaken sets up
- There is no respect for the universe and what has gone before
- The original characters are misused
- The new characters have nothing endearing, no struggle to get behind or relate to.
Now, these are just a few of the examples I could list and Mauler goes into a more in-depth analysis of these complaints and more over on Youtube.
These arguments by a large part of the fanbase, and in particular, at the handling of Luke Skywalkers character has lead to a large part of the Star Wars fandom to boycott Solo: A Star Wars Story. This has contributed in a large part to it becoming a box office flop.
To see the Star Wars universe fail so badly at the box office was inconceivable in my lifetime. It is even harder to understand when Disney also oversee the absolute box office juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Disney obviously knows how to treat the fans of a major franchise. The number of figures, DVDs, Blu-rays, posters, lunchboxes, pyjamas etc sold by the MCU is proof of that. So how can they get Marvel so right and Star Wars so wrong?
For me personally, it comes down to the person in charge. The success of the MCU is largely credited to Keven Feige the mastermind of the overall story arcs of the MCU.
If this is the case then the failure of the Star Wars Universe and the fan backlash over The Last Jedi and Solo: a Star Wars Story must lay firmly at the feet of Kathleen Kennedy.
Social Justice Politics
A huge complaint against the prequel trilogy by fans of the franchise was the amount of politics involved. After such a long time between seeing the stories from a galaxy far far away on the cinema screens, fans couldn’t wait to see space battles and lightsaber duels. Unfortunately, we got long scenes of politics and debates in the Galatic Senate.
The new trilogy is really no different. The promotion of episode 7 & 8 as well as Solo as rammed gender identity politics down the throats of fans. Everything from diversity to feminism has been shoehorned into the films at the cost of good writing and character development.
Rey could have been an awesome character. A saviour that brought hope to the galaxy and picked up the torch of the Jedi from Luke. Instead, we got a Mary Sue character that has no redeeming feature to her other than she is a woman.
Fans that spoke out against this were quickly dismissed as misogynistic or racist by Katleen Kennedy and others which is a new twist in Hollywood marketing that I fail to understand.
We saw exactly the same mindset in play when the Ghostbusters remake launched and a massive part of its marketing was to be antagonistic and insulting to its core fanbase. When did this become a legitimate stance to take against the movie going public who you are making films for?
The role of gender identity politics as riddled the Star Wars universe so much that Forbes attributed the box office flop of Solo to racism! I was I was joking. Scott Mendelson writes in an article for Forbes that Solo flopped because white male leads are box office poison.
So now not only are Star Wars fans misogynistic but the franchise is racist?
Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise at a cost of billions. Quite simply because they knew that they would get a ten-fold return on their investment with ease and that could have easily been the case.
The Star Wars expanded universe provided a wealth of stories and content to draw from. It essentially laid out the roadmap for the entire Star Wars universe and monetising that was a no-brainer.
Unfortunately for Disney, Kathleen Kennedy et al have been put in charge of that process. Instead of having any respect for the lore, traditions and more importantly the fan base of Star Wars they have seen it has an opportunity to preach gender identity politics at the expense of alienating the majority of their audience.
The Force Awakens whilst a shameful plot point for plot point retelling of A New Hope brought back the visual spectacle of Star Wars and introduced new fans to the Star Wars universe. The Last Jedi not only threw away everything set up by episode 7 but destroyed most of the lore that the previous 7 films set up.
At the end of the day as a 37-year-old, lifelong fan of the Star Wars universe, I feel that Star Wars is no longer written for me. A position I am not alone in. Disney bought the Star Wars franchise in order to sell more of it to us when in reality they alienate the core fanbase in order to attract a fanbase that has no ties in the universe deeper than episode 7.
If your intention was to build a new audience and following on an entirely new universe why bother with the Star Wars brand? Why not just create a whole new franchise that has no history, no cannon and will not infuriate vast majority of the fandom.
As of now the Star Wars universe I grew up in as a child not only has no place for me but I am not even invited into. In fact, I am insulted and scoffed at by the writers and creators.
I will no longer watch anything from the Star Wars universe and that is a sad, sad realisation to come to.
What are your thoughts on Solo: A Star Wars Story? what are your thoughts on the state of the Star Wars universe in general? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.