The Force is under siege.
Disney and Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story is struggling in its debut at the Memorial Day box office, where it’s coming in well behind expectations with an estimated three-day debut of $83.3 million-plus and projected four-day debut of $101 million (numbers will be updated Monday morning). That’s even worse than forecasts earlier in the weekend.
The news is altogether grim overseas, where Solo rolled out in every major market save Japan. The movie — which made a high-profile stop at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month — is bombing with $65 million, including a dismal $10.1 million launch in China. The global bow is an estimated $148.3 million; many had thought it would fly to $300 million even though the Star Wars franchise has never been an enormous player internationally.
The Han Solo origin pic is pacing well behind fellow standalone movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), which opened to $155 million in North America. Solo blasts off a mere five months after Star Wars: The Last Jedi hit theaters, raising the possibility of fatigue. The movie’s performance is sure to prompt Lucasfilm and Disney to reevaluate their strategy for the marquee franchise.
“We are all over it, and will spend a lot of time digging into why things happened the way they did. We have a year and a half before Episode IX comes out,” says Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis. “We’ve had so much success. The previous three Star Wars films did $4 billion worth of of buisness at the box office, so it doesn’t feel like saturation is necessarily an issue, but we are still answering all of the questions.
Solo, directed by Ron Howard, is the first of the four titles in the revitalized series to brave the competitive summer box office, versus bowing in mid-December. The last three movies faced no immediate competition on their opening weekends, while Solo goes up against Deadpool 2, which launched a week ago and will take in a projected $53.5 million for the four-days.
Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Solo would debut to $130 million-$150 million domestically. Box-office observers note that the movie is playing younger than other Star Wars installments, meaning it could lure families. The film nabbed an A- CinemaScore from Friday ticket buyers, a half-grade below the A bestowed the previous trio of films. Rogue One is the best comparison for Solo among the three new Star Wars films released by Disney and Lucasfilm.
Star Wars: Episode VII — Force Awakens, which revived the franchise after a long absence from the big screen and featured original stars from the first films, debuted to a then-record $248 million in December 2015, followed by Rogue One and, in 2017, $220 million for Last Jedi, the follow-up to Force Awakens.
Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich in the titular role opposite Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo and Paul Bettany. The story follows Han Solo as he teams with a band of misfits and mercenaries — including Lando Calrissian as well as a young Chewbacca — to stop the villainous Dryden Vos.
Howard famously took over directing duties when Lucasfilm fired Christopher Miller and Phil Lord over creative differences.
No other film dared to open nationwide opposite Solo. The movie’s chief competition is Fox and Ryan Reynold’s R-rated Deadpool 2, which grossed $42.7 million for the three-days. Through Monday, the movie’s domestic total should be $218.2 million after earning $53.5 million for the four-day holiday.
Deadpool 2 zoomd to another $57 million overseas for a foreign total of $279.7 million and estimated global haul of nearly $500 million through Monday. The superhero pic beat Solo in several major markets, including South Korea. The Deadpool sequel took in $4.4 million, versus $1.1 million for Solo.
After North America and China, Solo‘s top markets offshore were Australia ($5 million), Germany ($4.3 million), France ($3.9 million), Russia ($3.6 million), Spain ($2.6 million) and Mexico ($2.5 million).
Among other holdovers, Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War continued to make noise in its fifth weekend, passing up The Last Jedi ($620.2 million) and The Avengers ($623.4 million) in North America to rank as No. 6 on the list of all-time top-grossing films, not adjusted for inflation. The movie’s four-day estimated gross is $20.1 million for a domestic total of $621.7 million through Monday.
Overseas, Infinity War earned another $32.5 milion, pushing the supehero pic past the $1.9 billion mark globally.
Coming in No. 4 domestically is Paramount’s Book Club, targeting older females. The movie is enjoying a nice hold in its second weekend, grossing $9.5 million for the three days and an estimated $12 million for the four. Book Club will finish Memorial Day with a domestic total of $34.2 million.
Magnolia and Participant’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg doc, RBG, continues to do stand-out businss at the specialty box office, coming in No. 10 overall with a projected four-day holiday gross of $1.5 million for a domestic total of $6 million. That’s the best showing of the year to date for a documentary.
May 25, 12:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
May 26, 8:45 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
May 27, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend grosses and estimates.