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To borrow one of Han Solo’s lines from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, “That’s not how the Force works!”
It’s an apt way to sum up the troubled performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story. In one of the biggest box-office surprises in recent times, Solo is badly underperforming and will become the first of the Star Wars movies made by Disney and Lucasfilm to lose money.
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. The movie lost major altitude in its second weekend of play to finish Sunday with a domestic total of $148.9 million and a global cume of $264.2 million.
Until now, Disney and Lucasfilm appeared unstoppable. Force Awakens, benefiting mightily from pent-up demand, earned $2.068 billion globally to rank as the No. 3 title of all time, not adjusted for inflation. The stand-alone title Rogue One: A Star Wars Story flew to $1.056 billion, while Star Wars: The Last Jedi grossed $1.332 billion. Since expectations for any film in the Star Wars franchise are sizable, no one expected Solo to fly so low.
“This marks a tough return to movie reality for a Disney that had in recent years enjoyed a can’t-miss mystique,” Crockett wrote in his note to investors.
In his own note to investors, analyst Doug Creutz of Cowen & Co. pins the blame on a lackluster marketing campaign rather than franchise fatigue.
Disney can withstand any loss and isn’t expected to take a write-down for the Solo shortfall. This year alone, Disney and Marvel’s Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for the studio. Black Panther has grossed $1.345 billion worldwide, including nearly $700 million domestically.
Infinity War has grossed $1.966 billion globally and is poised to become the first summer film in history to cross $2 billion. The all-time top three grossers are, not adjusted for inflation, Avatar, Titanic and Force Awakens, which were all released in December.
Disney’s next film, Pixar’s Incredibles 2, is tipped to be one of the biggest films of the summer.
The studio also has time to regroup before the next Star Wars movie as Star Wars: Episode IX, a follow-up to Force Awakens and Last Jedi, won’t hit theaters until Dec. 20, 2019.
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