With May 25th 2018 feeling like a lifetime ago, I feel I have to remind some people that Solo: A Star Wars Story up until this week was still playing in a small number of theaters, 40 to be exact. Now, I have no idea which 40 houses were showing the film but with the schedule out for this weekend, Solo has officially been dropped from the que. This isn't a referendum on Solo and how it has been received by the fans, it's simply a look at the numbers the film put up, and how it compares to others in the franchise.
Solo opened during the May long weekend, a date very important to Star Wars fans, and opened to a worldwide tune of $149,420,489. In North America it opened with $84,420,89, selling 9 million tickets, which was more than good enough for the top spot, a position it would hold for two weeks before giving it up to Ocean's 8.
All told, Solo: A Star Wars Story was in theatres for 119 days (17 weeks) and at its peak played at 4,381 locations. It amassed a box office total of $392,953,681, $213,767,512 of that take coming from North America, which represents 54.4% of the share. Its best performance internationally was in the United Kingdom where it made a total of $25,838,652 in 15 weeks of release. In North America it sold roughly 22,789,600 tickets.
So, how does this compare to the rest of the franchise? I don't think I need to tell you it doesn't rank well amongst its peers and I'm not rehashing old wounds, again, just simply looking at numbers from a benign point of view. It's also worth noting that very few films in the history of the business, actually have numbers that compete with 1977's Star Wars and 2015's The Force Awakens.
There's an endless amount of categories to look at when you're talking about tracking, but for the sake of time we'll look at just some of the major categories including openings, total box office and tickets sold. The numbers account for inflation where indicated.
So, there are some things that are clear in these numbers and some things that maybe need explaining. Adjusted numbers for worldwide totals are hard to come by and not all reliable so I didn't bother, besides, they would more or less reflect the domestic rankings anyways. You'll notice Star Wars doesn't appear in the top 10 for opening weekends, that's because if you remember, technically it opened in only 43 theaters so its take was only $1,554,475. Also, any re-releases and special editions are listed separately as the recent films haven't had that opportunity yet.
The numbers worth focusing on are theater counts and number of tickets sold. That's where the numbers are disproportionate and clearly show the success or failure of a film and it's here Solo really fails in comparison to previous entries. Obviously as years have gone on, theater counts have increased (thanks to Star Wars) and inflation has increased along with it making the price of admission an all time high. The average ticket price for 2018 so far is $9.27, compared to 1977 when the first Star Wars was released, when it was $2.23. This is why it's important to look at adjusted numbers and more importantly, number of tickets sold.
At its peak, Solo played in 4,381 theaters compared to Star Wars which topped out at 1,750. So, if you look at tickets, Solo sold only 16% of the tickets Star Wars did with nearly 60% more theatres.
Look, whatever the reasons are, only 22 million people saw Solo: A Star Wars Story on the big screen domestically and that's just not good enough when you have a rumored budget of $300 million. Polling showed that a majority of the people that actually saw the film in theaters liked it and the exit scores skewed the way they usually do for these types of films. A mostly male audience (58%) that leaned older (64% over 25) is also in line with the franchise' previous two entries The Last Jedi and Rogue One.
Behind the scenes drama, scheduling, quality, franchise fatigue, poor marketing, proximity, whether it's one, two or all of these reasons that contributed, the fact is people didn't turn out like they normally do for a Star Wars film. Nobody is more aware of this than Disney and Lucasfilm and just recently we've seen Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledge that scheduling played a huge part in its shortcomings and they're looking to adjust that.
With this most current trilogy coming to a close next year, the numbers J.J. Abrams Episode IX bring in should really be more reflective of the franchise than Solo was. With a year and a half in between, that should be plenty of time for people to get over their fatigue if they were experiencing any.
Till next time...MTFBWY.
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