The Han Solo origin pic is pacing well behind fellow standalone ‘Star Wars’ film ‘Rogue One.’
The Force is being tested in a serious way.
Disney and Lucasfilms’ Solo: A Star Wars Story is struggling in its debut at the Memorial Day box office, where it could come in well behind expectations with $105 million-$110 million for the four-day holiday weekend unless traffic picks up in earnest on Saturday. The projected three-day weekend tally is $80 million-$90 million.
The Han Solo origin story is pacing well behind fellow standalone movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which took in $29 million in Thursday-evening previews in mid-December of 2016 on its way to a $71 million Friday and a three-day debut of $155 million. Solo grossed $14.1 million in Thursday previews for a projected $35 million Friday. (Solo does have bragging rights to landing the best preview gross for a Memorial Day release.)
Solo is the first of the four titles in the revitalized Star Wars franchise to brave the summer box office. It also opens a mere five months after Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi hit theaters, raising the possibility of fatigue.
Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Solo, directed by Ron Howard, would debut to $130 million-$150 million.
The news is grim overseas, where Solo is launching in most points around the globe timed to its U.S. launch, including China. The movie took in a dismal $11.4 million from its first 43 markets on Wednesday and Thursday. Disney hasn’t yet provided numbers from China, but box-office sources there show the movie opening to roughly $3 million on Friday for a possible weekend debut in the $10 million range.
Rogue One is the best comp 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 $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 will be Fox’s Deadpool 2, which opened last weekend to $125 million domestically — including $18.6 million in previews — and $301 million globally. The critically acclaimed sequel has done strong midweek business, and is projected to gross $52 million-$57 million for the four-day holiday weekend.
May 25, 12:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.