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 Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story is struggling in its debut at the Memorial Day box office, where it is coming in well behind expectations with a projected $110 million-$115 million four-day holiday. The three-day weekend tally looks to be in the $90 million-plus range.
The Han Solo origin story is pacing well behind fellow standalone movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), which took in $29 million in Thursday-evening previews 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 $35.6 million Friday. (Solo does have bragging rights to landing the best preview gross for a Memorial Day release.)
Solo, directed by Ron Howard, is the first of the four titles in the revitalized Star Wars franchise to brave the summer box office, versus bowing in 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 is projected to gross $50 million-plus in its sophomore outing. Another pressing concern — Solo blasts off 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 would debut to $130 million-$150 million. Box-office observers note that the movie is playing younger than other Star Wars installments, meaning it could lure families on Saturday and Sunday. The film nabbed an A- CinemaScore from Friday ticket buyers, a half-grade below the A bestwowed the previous trio of films.
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 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 debuted last weekend to $125 million domestically — including $18.6 million in previews — and $301 million globally. The critically acclaimed supehero sequel has done strong midweek business.
On Friday, Deadpool took in $12.1 million and is heading for a second weekend three-day total of about $43 million and a four-day total that could top $54 million.
In third place for the day, Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War took in an additional $4.3 million as its domestic tally climbed to $609.4 million. It currently ranks eighth in terms of all-time domestic grossers, but is likely to surpass Star Wars: The Last Jedi, number seven with $620.2 million, and The Avengers, number six with $623.4 million, during the course of the four-day holiday.
May 25, 12:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
May 26, 8:45 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.