Even without adjusting for inflation, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second lowest-grossing Star Wars movie to date (the lowest: The Empire Strikes Back, although if you include the 1997 re-release, that’s no longer the case). There are numerous reasons why it had such a poor performance at the domestic box office: decent-but-not-overwhelming reviews, behind-the-scenes drama, Star Wars fatigue, and, according to Ron Howard, those no-good trolls.
The director, who replaced Phil Lord and Christopher Miller after they left the project due to ever-mysterious “creative differences” (there’s the aforementioned drama), told the Happy Sad Confused podcast that “aggressive” trolling was a crucial factor in Solo only (“only”) making $213.7 million at the box office. “I feel very good about the way [Solo] turned out,” said Howard. “I love the way it played to audiences, which I witnessed and was a part of. So all of that I’m able to feel good about. Sure, I wish it would’ve done [better] and lived up to the box office and so forth, so that’s disappointing. Why? Maybe it’s the release. Maybe it’s the idea that it’s sort of too nostalgic, going back and revisiting an origin story for a beloved character may not be what the fans were looking for.” And, he continued, “some trolling, definitely some trolling. Some actual aggressive… It was pretty interesting. Not so much, a little bit the Twitter feed, yes, but it was especially noticeable prior to the release of the movie.”
Howard also spread the blame out to the “pushback” from The Last Jedi and “the algorithms,” like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, where “there was an inordinate push down on the ‘Want to See’ [score on Rotten Tomatoes] and on the fan voting.” Those factors, and especially the market-saturating fatigue, probably had more to do with Solo‘s poor showing than the trolling. After all, Captain Marvel is up to $426 million and (still!) counting.
You can listen to Howard’s interview here.