‘Solo’ May Officially Be The First ‘Star Wars’ Movie To Lose Money, But Why?

solo box office lost money
Lucasfilm / Disney

Even when Star Wars movies are bad, they’re good for the bottom line. Critics and audiences alike hated Episode I from its bureaucratic plot to Jar-Jar Binks, and it still made a billion freakin’ dollars. It technically outgrossed the far superior prequel Rogue One if you factor in inflation, which is the definitive argument, if you really needed one, that the ’90s were terrible. Solo: A Star Wars Story, by contrast, does not suck, which is perhaps surprising considering the behind-the-scenes drama involving the director swap, and people who’ve seen it enjoy it. Yet, not a lot of people are seeing it, and it’s officially going to be the first Star Wars movie to lose money.

The Hollywood Reporter did some digging and found that while Disney isn’t losing a lot, at least by Disney standards, they’re still on the hook for at least $50 million in losses:

Wall Street analyst Barton Crockett says Solo will lose more than $50 million. Industry financing sources, however, say that figure could come in at $80 million or higher, although no one knows the exact terms of Disney’s deals for home entertainment and television, among other ancillary revenues. Solo, directed by Ron Howard, isn’t likely to gross much more than $400 million globally against a budget of at least $250 million and a major multimillion-dollar marketing spend.

To give you an idea of how drastic that is, you have to go back nearly 40 years to The Empire Strikes Back, which grossed $500 million worldwide when it was released in 1980. But even that needs a few qualifiers, since the average cost of a movie ticket in 1980 was about three bucks, and the cost has tripled since then. So Solo is lagging well behind the franchise in almost every respect. Although, to be fair, the movie also went far overbudget due to the change in directors; originally it was going to cost far less than $250 million, and still would have made money, if been unimpressive.

The usual theories have been rolled out: It was too soon after The Last Jedi, the behind-the-scenes drama turned off audiences, and so on. But it’s likely even simpler than that. It’s telling that the biggest fan reactions have nothing to do with the guy in the title: Everybody loves Don Glover’s Lando, or Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37, or in our case, Erin Kellyman’s Enfys Nest. It’s not that Alden Ehrenreich is bad as Solo, quite the opposite, but he’s the least interesting character in his own movie precisely because we know exactly where he goes from here. The movie even ends with him deciding working for Jabba The Hutt would be a great idea.

As bad as the prequel trilogy was, at least the idea of figuring out why Darth Vader became a murderer with just enough good in him to flip at the last second was interesting. Han’s just a lucky guy with some good friends, a more competent Jack Burton. In the end, it might be that Han’s too slight a character to carry a movie on his own, no matter how big the franchise.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)