Typically, one would not complain about an opening weekend north of $100 million, but the $101 million fetched by the latest installment in the Star Wars universe over the entire Memorial Day weekend is, indeed, hugely disappointing. The three-day weekend totals for Solo: A Star Wars Story ($83 million) are not only coming in more than $160 to $140 million less than the opening weekends of A Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, respectively, but the four-day total is in over $50 million less than the three-day opening weekend total for Rogue One ($155 million), and it’s doing so with a movie featuring arguably the universe’s most popular character.
Therein, however, may lie part of the problem: Han Solo is as popular as he is because he has always been played by the irascibly charming Harrison Ford, and for a lot of fans, Alden Ehrenreich just doesn’t cut it. To be fair to Ehrenreich, following Harrison Ford is next to impossible for anyone, especially after 40 years of history tied up in Ford. But Disney may have also misfired in hiring a relative unknown rather than someone like Donald Glover, who already comes in with an established reputation. It may simply be, however, that moviegoers wouldn’t have accepted anyone else in the role of Solo.
Ehrenreich, however, is only one of many smaller problems that may have hurt the showing of Solo. It also underwent a high-profile director change, after Ron Howard took over from Phil Lord and Chris Miller; the marketing for the film hasn’t been all that exciting; the reviews haven’t been as strong as the previous three outings; and it’s the first Star Wars film under the Disney banner to come in with less than an “A” Cinemascore (it scored an A-).