'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Gets Tepid Response at Cannes

Although the film got a four-minute standing ovation, the energy level in the theater was far less than the previous evening's 'BlacKkKlansman.'
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
From left: Simon Emanuel, Joonas Suotamo, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Ron Howard, Emilia Clarke, Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Chewbacca and Paul Bettany

Blame it on the French ennui. The Cannes debut of Solo: A Star Wars Story was met with a ho-hum response.

Stormtroopers walked the carpet ahead of the screening Tuesday at the Grand Amphitheatre Lumiere at the Palais des Festivals, and posed in front of the screen inside as well.

New Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich strolled down the carpet with Chewbacca, director Ron Howard and the rest of the cast, including Donald Glover (whom the French announcer called "Le Childish Gambino"), Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo and Emilia Clarke, who sported a platinum blonde 'do. Filmmaker Spike Lee, who stormed the Palais Monday night with the world premiere of his film BlacKkKlansman, walked in with his wife, producer Tonya Lewis Lee, and sat in a row in front of the cast. Right before the movie started, Glover yelled “Spikey!” and Lee stood up to loud applause (Glover had partied at the BlacKkKlansman bash the previous night).

After the screening, Solo received a four-minute standing ovation. But the energy level in the theater was lagging. There was only one moment when the crowd applauded, when the Millennium Falcon escaped a close call. And there was only one instance of audible laughter, when Lando (Glover) told Han that he hated him. By contrast, Monday’s BlacKkKlansman premiere drew laughter and breakout applause throughout the film and a much heartier, emotional standing ovation.

After the Solo screening, one attendee could be heard saying, “I don’t need to see it again. Once is enough.” The French in the audience didn’t seem to get the Disney and Lucasfilm project. At a separate press screening, there were no boos, but only a tiny smattering of applause.

Still, the beach party that followed found revelers in higher spirits, despite long lines and the fact that security was the tighest yet of the festival (multiple check points and metal detector). But Disney certainly knows how to put on a fireworks show and put on a spectacular display over the Cannes harbor, accompanied by the famous John Williams scrore from the original Star Wars.

"I'm such a sucker for fireworks," Clarke told THR. "It's so embarassing."

Clarke, like other cast members, filmed the display on her iPhone.

Solo is the lone Hollywood tentpole storming the Croisette this year as American films in general took a back seat. Screening at Cannes can be an efficient way to market a film’s international launch in particular as the foreign press is gathered at the festival. This is the first time in more than a decade that a Star Wars film has screened at Cannes. Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) played out of competition at the festival. Howard has previously brought The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Ed TV (1999) to the fest. 

Solo had its Hollywood premiere last week ahead of the Cannes screening. Disney and Lucasfilm will release the pic May 25.