Disney’s Star Wars Problem
Solo released over the Memorial Holiday weekend to not as much fanfare as Disney had hoped it would. The newest Star Wars movie, and the second in the line of Star Wars Stories to release since Disney acquired the franchise, couldn’t even break $100 million in its opening weekend and settled for under $150 million worldwide. Comparing the numbers, the last three Star Wars movies grossed over billion dollars each worldwide, a number that Solo probably will not get anywhere near without a massive fan resurgence in the coming weeks.
So what happened with Solo? Disney has stated themselves that they have a lot of analysis to do to see what went wrong, but is it too late to do anything about it without some serious restructuring? I don’t think it should be too hard to see what is happening to their lucrative franchise. Namely, will the problems that Solo encountered bleed into the rest of the franchise?
It was widely reported that the original directors of Solo, Chris Lord and Phil Miller, exited the project roughly 75% through principal photography. They were then replaced by Ron Howard who made some changes and re-shot a lot of the footage. However, even before this replacement there was a lot of nervousness from fans about the prospect of this movie. How do you cast a young Harrison Ford? What kind of backstory can you put together to make Han Solo a more loved character then he already was? Was anyone even asking for a backstory? The fans that really wanted to know any backstory on the original trilogies characters had 30 plus years of extended universe fiction they could read to fill in those blanks (even if they aren’t canon anymore).
Then comes to who they cast as a young Han Solo: Alden Ehrenreich. Rumor has it that Lucasfilm had hired an acting coach midway through production just to help him get through the shoot. To be fair, no one has ever stated what he actually needed the coaching for, but it’s still not the best sign. The actor they hired to play one of the most loved characters of all time and he needs an acting coach to play the part. Really?
Does Release Date Matter?
Then, we arrive at the release date. When the December holiday season has been so good to Star Wars, why would you want to try the Memorial Day weekend and mess with your good fortune? I know historically more Star Wars movies have opened over the May weekend then the December holiday, but the last three have done so well, why wouldn’t you want to keep that going? I would put money on the fact that this is the last time they try to release anywhere outside of the December holiday season. The summer is too jam-packed, which is why so many bigger movies have been releasing in March and April.
Did Solo Need Han to Tell THAT Story?
Mild Spoilers to follow.
Think about it. Was Han even needed for this story? Outside the first thirty minutes which showed a very small background of Han Solo, which, in my opinion, were the roughest moments of the entire film, was he needed? Was there anything in that movie that we needed to know to better appreciate Han Solo? Is L3-37 stuck in the Falcon computer for all eternity? Was there any revelations in that script that will leave moviegoers satisfied with this film?
There was nothing I really was dying to know about Han Solo before, and I don’t feel particularly enlightened about the character after. I was always satisfied with how fleshed out he was in the original trilogy and didn’t have lingering questions as to where he came from, which honestly Solo didn’t even really answer anyway.
What Solo did provide was a fun adventure through the Star Wars universe that introduced us to new characters that were more fleshed out, had more motivation, and were more likable than the main protagonist. I would have enjoyed a fresh adventure in the Star Wars universe. They could have still brought in Donald Glover’s Lando as the cameo character to excite the fans. I think that would have made Solo much stronger of a film and a lot easier to sell and swallow then trying to include Han Solo.
The Last Jedi of It All
I don’t think anyone loved The Last Jedi. There’s hyperbole in that statement for sure (it has its pros and cons as a film), but it can’t be denied that TLJ splintered the Star Wars universe somewhat. It was expected that a lot of people simply wouldn’t show up for another Star Wars film only five months after The Last Jedi made so many fans swear off Disney’s Star Wars. The main question was would those same people hold to their disdain and not see future Star Wars films, or was it all just talk? At least when it comes to Solo it appears that the fanboys backed up all that talk by simply not showing up.
Now that we have seen Solo take such a hit box office wise, what does that mean moving forward? Was it simply a case of no one really asking for a Han Solo backstory, or a growing part to a bigger problem for Disney?
Disney’s Star Wars Restructuring
Now Disney needs to look ahead to Episode 9 next Christmas and wonder: do they really have a problem? I believe they most certainly do. I am not sure if they will be able to right the ship until Episode 9 is over and out-of-the-way. Only then can they can move on without being tied to the Skywalker name, which carries so much nostalgia and passion.
Their first mistake was not hiring JJ Abrams to do the entire new trilogy. The problem, and why The Last Jedi gets so much hate, is because it seemed to ignore everything before it. Rain Johnson seemed to have an idea for a Star Wars story and wanted to leave his mark so badly that he did what he thought would be cool and not what would be best for this new trilogy.
Personally, I didn’t mind The Last Jedi as much as some. I grew up loving these characters but never wanted more from them than what I already had. Now if Episode 9 were going to be done by Johnson and he was going to continue what he set up, I would be really interested. Now that Abrams is back for the next installment, I worry he will just spend so much time trying to fix what Johnson changed by bringing back story elements that appear to be closed simply because that wasn’t how he wanted those elements to end based on what he did before with The Force Awakens.
So What Should We Expect with Episode 9?
So what type of movie are we going to get with Episode 9? Are we going to get the conclusion that The Last Jedi set up before it, or are we going to go back and right the wrongs of The Last Jedi? Unfortunately, it’s lose/lose either way. You fall into one of two camps: you want them to continue The Last Jedi, or you want them to erase it. Because of this, I think most people will wait to hear if they should see it, like they did for Solo. The bad part for Disney is that if they can’t pull off an amazing movie with Episode 9 then those people who are holding out will wait longer and the value of the franchise falls into greater jeopardy.
I know I will see Episode 9, but I find myself not really being as excited as I should for what should be the conclusion of the Skywalker saga on the big screen. Disney has a lot of goodwill to repair after the last two Star Wars movies. If they can’t then this Star Wars problem they have won’t be going away anytime soon.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on Disney and Star Wars moving forward? Comment down below!
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