Given that The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi were all initially scheduled for a May release date, only to be pushed back to December of their various years, fans were all-but-certain that Solo: A Star Wars Story would suffer the same fate. After all, the movie had a notoriously troubled production, with Phil Lord and Chris Miller being unceremoniously booted from the project midway through shooting and Ron Howard being brought in to rescue the pic.
With that in mind, nobody would have batted an eyelid if they’d have kicked the film back to the end of the year, so why did Disney stick to their May 25th release date, even with Lucasfilm apparently wanting to shift it? Well, Dirk Libbey over at Cinema Blend has a theory, and it revolves around The Walt Disney Company’s fiscal year running from October 1st to September 30th.
According to this logic, moving the film to December would have shifted it into the 2019 fiscal year. Libbey argues that Disney’s 2019 slate is much weaker than in 2018, with only Avengers 4 certain to top the billion dollar mark at the box office and that Toy Story 4, Mary Poppins Returns and the live-action Lion King remake “will almost certainly be successful, but not to [the billion dollar] level.” Following this logic, Disney chose to stick to the May 25th release because they knew that Solo was going to flop and didn’t want it to impact upon their iffy 2019 bottom line. And so, with Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther cleaning up at the box office, it was better to have it as a footnote in the wildly successful 2018 financial report.
Frankly, I think this is a load of bollocks. First of all, Disney’s 2019 lineup is hardly anaemic. Libbey is seriously talking down the box office prospects of Toy Story 4 and The Lion King, especially as Toy Story 3 and the last live-action Disney remake, Beauty and the Beast, easily cleared $1 billion (and if Mary Poppins Returns gets off the ground, it could do fantastic business at Christmas). Secondly, this assumes that Disney and Marvel Studios predicted that Black Panther would do as well as it did. I’m sure they knew it’d be successful, but I doubt they forsaw it being one of their highest grossing movies to date.
Thirdly (and most importantly) this theory is entirely predicated on Disney and Lucasfilm being dead certain that Solo would be a gigantic flop way before release. It seems that wasn’t the case though, as everything we’ve heard suggests a mild state of shock amongst the studios that the movie’s performed so poorly. I’d even go so far as to say that Disney perceiving that they have a shaky 2019 lineup would be a strong argument for delaying a Star Wars film to a December 2018 release, given the business that the rest of the franchise has done over the same period.
While I’m not entirely sure why they stuck to their May 25th release date for Solo: A Star Wars Story, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the reason. What do you guys think, though? Is Cinema Blend onto something with their theory? As always, let us know below.