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Solo has the best box office weekend, but bigger picture is grim

Disney had expected about $50 million more

Alden Ehrenreich rests his hands on his hips while standing on sand, with people behind him, in Solo Lucasfilm
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Disney’s Star Wars and super-hero movies have delivered a series of record-busting box office performances but it does not look like Solo: A Star Wars Story will join them, even if it just had the best weekend of any film.

Industry watchers are estimating $83.3 million for Solo to make it Memorial Day’s top domestic earner. Disney had expected $130 to $150 million for the four-day period; with it looking like the movie will struggle to break $100 million, this is a disappointing open.

Critically, Solo is coming in with Rotten Tomatoes’ lowest marks (71 percent “fresh”) since the Star Wars reboots began back in 2015. And some critical appraisals have been faint in their praise. But that may not have anything to do with this.

Solo is the first of those films to premiere in May (the other three have been holiday premieres) and Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War are both going gangbusters with just as much, if not more buzz. There’s also Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which debuted not even six months ago. It’s possible this is too much competition, or even fans are fatigued and will go see it later.

By comparison, spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dec. 16, 2016) opened with $155 million. The last two full entries in the Star Wars saga (2015’s The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi) both did more than $220 million, and had been Nos. 1 and 2 all-time until Infinity War checked in with a $257 million weekend at the end of April. Deadpool 2, which premiered May 18, grabbed $125 million at domestic box offices.

Internationally, analysts don’t expect much help as Star Wars movies typically do poorer overseas than their Marvel counterparts. Solo reportedly cost $300 million to make, so it will have until June 22 to make that back before Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom comes to town. That’s expected to challenge Disney’s ongoing death grip on the top 10 movie weekends.

Update (May 28): Solo: A Star Wars Story’s four-day weekend numbers are pretty grim. The movie brought in $103 million domestically, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s less than analysts’ predictions last week, which estimated the movie would gross anywhere between $130 and $140 million.

Solo also underperformed overseas. The film pulled in $168 million globally, which is far less than analysts’ expectations. Solo was expected to produce $300 million internationally. To compare, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm’s first stand-alone spinoff anthology film, made $155 million domestically when it first opened in December 2016.

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