It still sounds strange to type it out: a Star Wars movie has flopped. Granted, Solo earned about $85 million during its opening weekend, but that’s way below studio expectations for a film from that galaxy far, far away about one of the franchise’s most popular characters released smack dab in the middle of blockbuster season.
We could be here all day discussing why it bombed, with theories ranging from a backlash to The Last Jedi and franchise fatigue to simply that audiences correctly sensed the pic wasn’t going to be very good and stayed away. Whatever the reasons, it’s drastically underperformed. But how does this change Disney’s plans for Star Wars moving forward?
Well, first and foremost, the wisdom of releasing a movie every year has to be called into question. Solo arriving a mere five months after The Last Jedi slightly cheapens a franchise for which every previous film has felt like a much anticipated event. Say what you want about the prequels, but each and every one of their releases was hotly anticipated by audiences eager to see what new direction the iconic series would go in. Not so with Solo, though, about which even diehard Star Wars fans seemed to be a bit blasé prior to release.
This will naturally impact on whether Disney chooses to go ahead with further Anthology pics. I mean, if they can’t make one about Han Solo work, what chance do they have with Boba Fett? After all, a huge reason why the character is so famous is that he’s mysterious and enigmatic. A film exploring his bounty hunting origins is going to shed an awful lot of light on the man behind the mask and potentially ruin his appeal. Similar thinking could apply to the rumored Obi-Wan project, which very well could pick up the baton thrown in the closing scenes of Solo and feature a rematch between Kenobi and a certain newly resurrected Sith opponent.
Perhaps the best thing for Disney to do now is to give the Star Wars cow a rest, because its much-milked teats are bleeding pretty heavily at the moment. Fortunately, Episode IX is due for release in December 2019, which at least gives us a bit of a buffer between films. If the studio really has longterm plans for the brand, though, I think they should take 2020 off and have a hard think about exactly what the potential future could hold. After all, nobody wants Star Wars to become just another film franchise. It’s something special, and it should stay that way.