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Editorial: Why Solos Underperformance is Not the End of the World

Discussion in 'Solo' started by SWNN Probe, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. SWNN Probe

    SWNN Probe Seeker

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    [​IMG]

    So Solo's second weekend at the box office has come and gone, and from the looks of things it's not going to be the sleeper hit of the Summer. Granted, the post-Memorial Day drop is usually pretty brutal for a lot of films, but Solo's sophomore weekend numbers don't inspire a lot of confidence for its legs in spite of the mostly-positive reception the film received. But as Yoda said, 'the greatest teacher, failure is', and Disney/Lucasfilm will learn from this, most likely without having to drastically change their current course of action.





    Where Solo Stumbled



    The good news for Solo was that it turned out to be good in its own right in spite of the massive level of production drama it went through over the past year. In the long-term, having four Star Wars movies in a row that critics and audiences enjoyed (for the most part) is tangible proof Lucasfilm has done right by Star Wars since it's move to Disney. But there's no way to spin the bad news that this is the first real flop in Star Wars history. So, what went wrong with a movie that managed to make the best of a bad situation?



    One of the biggest problems Solo faced was that it was a movie Lucasfilm had to completely remake from the ground up. Ron Howard coming in to reshoot nearly 80 percent of an almost finished movie meant an unusual spike added to the original budget, ultimately hampering the movie's ability to profit. That stigma dominated most discussions about the movie by those paying attention to that sort of thing, but what's arguably the bigger issue here is that general audiences weren't as invested in the idea of a movie telling Han's origin story as they were the continuation of the saga films, or even Rogue One. While having a movie that's deemed good fun at best but unnecessary at worst is fine, it's another thing if that same movie ends up being one of the most expensive out of the recent batch you produced and it delivers the weakest results by a large margin.



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    The timing on the situation was another problem; Memorial Day Weekend has largely seen diminishing returns from major studios and Solo was the first Star Wars movie to open in May in over a decade. Fox moving Deadpool 2 to the week before Solo didn't do either movie any favors (as the R-rated superhero sequel may have taken on a pair of baby legs compared to its predecessor), and I imagine that's a big reason why the movie is struggling overseas. The international rollout of Jurassic World probably won't help much on that front either. Couple that with a limited marketing window and I think that sums up many of the reasons why Solo didn't hit the ground running (though to its credit, it still ended up having the seventh-biggest Memorial Day ever).



    Current projections suggest that the movie will lose over $50M, which, while bad, is a blip compared to the $1.5B in estimated profit that Disney's other three Star Wars movies made. However, I don't want this piece to be about doom and gloom; a Star Wars movie that wasn't a huge hit was bound to happen sooner or later. The movie didn't do well and Disney can take it because one, the financial problems with the film came from the overblown budget more than anything, and two, it isn't their biggest film of the year. Avengers: Infinity War was, and that movie made near-The Force Awakens numbers in spite of having a substantially larger budget, and Black Panther made numbers slightly better than The Last Jedi when it was expected to still succeed but not on that level. Future Star Wars movies will have to deliver better results, but for now, I don't think anyone should freak out over this.



    Why Lucasfilm Shouldn't Panic



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    Yes, Solo was a financial misfire, which happens to every studio at one point or another. The good news: the Star Wars brand wasn't relying on Solo to be a hit for its path forward and there is plenty of room for other planned projects to be made. Lucasfilm has made $4.65 billion and counting off of four movies that cost a collective $900 million or so to produce, and the former total could approach $5 billion before the end of Solo's run. For every dollar they spent on new Star Wars movies, they got more than five back, plus extra through additional revenue streams (Star Wars books, toys, comics, and other assorted merchandise). Compare that with Marvel Studios, who spent $1 billion on their first six movies and got a return of $3.81 billion - still an unbelievably successful achievement, but less so than the return of the Star Wars franchise.



    On that note, hit-factories Marvel Studios and Pixar were two other Disney subsidiaries that have produced results that didn't deliver every time. Sure, Marvel's only real flop (The Incredible Hulk) came before Disney bought them out, but still - the second Marvel Studios movie delivering underwhelming results didn't cause all of the other ones they had planned to suddenly get cancelled. Meanwhile, Pixar has had two duds in recent years: The Good Dinosaur and Cars 3 to a lesser extent. Neither of them were perceived as bad, but The Good Dinosaur was Pixar's first effort to lose money (and, like Solo, had a major overhaul during production which was significant, even by Pixar's standards) and Cars 3 had a middling performance overall that crawled to the break-even point, likely signaling that three is enough for the Owen Wilson-led franchise.



    After all of that, neither studio fired management or canceled existing plans, unlike what some people are telling Lucasfilm to do following Solo. Instead, those studios turned right around and produced movies that made up for their losses. The Incredible Hulk's underwhelming $263 million global total was followed up by Iron Man 2's near-$624 million total, which made a few tens of millions more than the first. Pixar just kept swimming through The Good Dinosaur's extinction-level $332 million with Finding Dory's $1.028 billion, and Cars 3 coming to a screeching halt with just under $384 million was followed up by Coco singing a tune to $806 million. It is important Lucasfilm makes sure its next efforts learn from Solo's problems to deliver strong openings with strong legs, which probably won't be an issue for the next film in the series.



    This Shouldn't Be Concerning For Star Wars Episode IX



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    Here's the advantage that Episode IX has over Solo: time and space, something Solo did not have in relation to The Last JediSolo struggled due to coming so soon after the last film with little fanfare while entering a crowded release window.  The closing chapter of the sequel trilogy in the meantime, will naturally attract general audiences as an end-of-the-year event and families will see it as an ideal Christmas movie, and most of the fans - including those who have supposedly sworn off Star Wars - will be back for at least one go if the marketing is enthralling enough, if not to simply see how this story ends.



    While Solo and Episode IX are both Star Wars, they are not cut from the same cloth and they shouldn't be held to the same standards. Going back to Marvel, an apt comparison would be to compare Ant-Man (which got to about half a billion dollars) to The Avengers (which made three times as much against a larger budget). Not every Star Wars movie is going to cross the billion-dollar threshold, and that can be just fine depending on budgets and expectations. It clearly wasn't fine in Solo's case, but again, there weren't many expecting it to reach Rogue One heights. At the same time, Episode IX likely won't have a problem surpassing Rogue One's level of success.



    [​IMG]



    Episode IX hits nearly 19 months after the previous Star Wars movie, which is more than enough of a drought to build up anticipation for another film in the series. But what's arguably more important is that Episode IX currently does not have to deal with as competitive a release window as Solo. So far, the only movies slated for the same window are the adaptation of the incredibly-popular Broadway musical Wicked (which hasn't had a major news update since 2016 and might not even release that year) and Jumanji 3 (which may not release in that window if Dwayne Johnson's famously-crowded schedule ends up being too busy).



    Star Wars is going to operate in a much less competitive window whether the other two movies of note make their release dates or not, and there won't be any real worry about Star Wars fatigue considering that it can't be seen as anything but an event after so much time since Solo. All the movie has to do is deliver, and Lucasfilm has had a good track record of doing that as of late. As long as Star Wars is able to succeed with future endeavors, an experiment like Solo that didn't work on the heels of three movies that made mountains of cash for them will hardly be the end of the world. Here are some takeaways that Lucasfilm likely learned (or lessons that they need to learn) from Solo in order to make sure future projects can succeed where it didn't.



    Solve the Director Problem



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    There's one thing that's been incredibly clear for quite some time now, and it's that after the Solo director mishap, Lucasfilm has not announced any new movie projects down to a release date. Sure, as of now we know of a planned film series from the Game of Thrones show-runners and a trilogy that Rian Johnson will create, but those haven't been slated just yet. The reason I think they've chosen to wait is they want to make sure they have a winning writing/directing team before they officially green light projects.



    Looking at indie directors seemed to be the path forward for Lucasfilm when they were starting out, but as time passed, it's become clear to them that people with experience need to get behind the camera when making a Star Wars movie.


    • Josh Trank was allegedly encouraged to leave the rumored Boba Fett movie at the request of the person who recommended him for the project to begin with.
    • Gareth Edwards had to defer control over to Tony Gilroy for an unspecified amount of the reshoots on Rogue One, but was still credited as a director for his work.
    • Lord and Miller were fired from Solo after producing underwhelming work for too many resources.
    • Colin Trevorrow split ways with Lucasfilm after it was clear his script for Episode IX wasn't going to work out.


    So far, the only directors that have had minimal issues with Lucasfilm are J. J. Abrams, Ron Howard, and Rian Johnson - the last of which is the only one of the 'indie director' crowd that Lucasfilm was on the same page with.



    [​IMG]



    Because of these issues, Lucasfilm currently has a perceived problem about being unwelcoming to rookie directors. I would argue that, instead of trying to correct that for big screen projects, they should instead be looking at industry veterans or at least directors with a wealth of experience under their belts to handle future Star Wars movies to sidestep that problem altogether. And so far, it looks like that's what they're going to do: Stephen Daldry has a ton of experience directing movies, plays, and even theater and is reportedly in-line to direct the rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi movie, and James Mangold, known for dramas like Walk the Line and superhero fare like Logan, is allegedly in charge of a recently-rumored Boba Fett project.



    Meanwhile, I'd argue that the upcoming television series would be a better place for would-be Star Wars movie directors to test their skills. The franchise will need new blood to survive, but if they're going to take risks, they should do so on a smaller scale. Lucasfilm can have it both ways if they play their cards right - being friendly to new directors and skilled Hollywood talent alike - but putting pros in the driver's seat on the more expensive of the two formats is probably the best decision going forward.



    Star Wars Needs the 'Event' Factor



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    Not to say Lucasfilm banked on this alone, but putting Star Wars in your movie's title isn't going to ensure the movie will be a massive hit. That's something a few people suspected that now has tangible proof. Over the past few years, we've learned that in spite of the continued popularity of several brands (LEGO, DC Comics, Transformers, Marvel Comics movies made by studios that aren't Disney, and Pixar), name recognition alone doesn't guarantee profitability.



    The sequel trilogy movies have thus far been able to pull off being 'event' movies effortlessly due to being continuations of the original Star Wars trilogy, and the first major narrative for multiple Star Wars movies since the prequels. Rogue One was able to be hugely successful by coming off the heels of the universally loved The Force Awakens, and also because it told a story that directly led into the events of A New Hope. While Solo has struggled for a host of reasons, one that I haven't touched on is simply the perception that it was a by-the-numbers origin story about Han Solo without Harrison Ford, so it didn't have that going for it. The lack of a perceived 'event' factor, especially so soon after Avengers: Infinity War was the 'event' film of the year, is something that kept Solo from being a hit.



    With this in mind, it is important for Disney to frame each and every Star Wars movie going forward as an 'event' that's worth going to the theater for. That means that there needs to be at least half a year of promotion for every major project, even if other projects will be released before the movie you've started advertising comes out. An element of unpredictability might help, too, as keeping spoilers hidden seems to have paid off for the other films while many could guess where most of Solo's story would go without watching the movie. Every single element of a Star Wars movie's production should go towards justifying why it's being made in the first place and any skepticism needs to be stomped out before it has the opportunity to grow.



    If the Movie is Not an Event: Watch the Budget and Consider the Streaming Option



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    Not every Star Wars movie has to be about an epic battle for control over the galaxy far, far away in order to work. Solo, from a narrative standpoint, and in terms of execution, is proof of that. But a big issue that Rogue One and Solo had in common was going over-budget due to reshoots. While these decisions were made knowing the hit of the added costs, preservation of the brand quality was paramount. With that said, there can be a value for small-scale Star Wars narratives, but if your ambitions are modest, your goals should be as well.



    Another option worth considering for Disney is that their new streaming service will need movie content. So far, fourteen low-to-mid-budget original Disney movies have been announced for the still-untitled streaming platform, but there's nothing on the Star Wars front. Even if a Star Wars production costs more than something like a live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp, Star Wars anything is still going to attract a lot of attention to the service, which will need an influx of strong content in order to get the streaming service to really profit. Disney's streaming service seems like a great place for a reasonably-budgeted sequel to Solo to call home - if people aren't going to drive to the theater to see it, perhaps they'll check it out from the comfort of their sofas.



    When Planning Future Releases, Take after Pixar, Not Marvel



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    Marvel has three movies per year, and that number may go up to four per year according to a tease from Alan Horn, if and when the Fox deal is approved. Pixar alternates between one-to-two per year, but there has never been a period where they released four movies in a two-year period. Based on Solo having so much trouble being released five months after The Last Jedi, I think it's clear which of these release formats a franchise like Star Wars should go with.



    I'm personally of the belief that if Lucasfilm is open to doing multiple Star Wars releases per year, then they shouldn't do multiple Star Wars releases every year. In 2020 we will see the release of Indiana Jones 5 and possibly the rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi movie or another 'Star Wars Story', so it's not going to happen soon. However, in 2021, we could see two Star Wars movies depending on if Disney/Lucasfilm wants to take that route, and since they're not going to wait forever to start the Rian Johnson trilogy or David Benioff and D. B. Weiss series, I suspect they might. But the best course of action might be to go about releasing a Star Wars movie every eight months or so, and to consider taking breaks to give certain projects more of a presence than others.



    While the disappointing performance of Solo is bound to cause some soul-searching at Lucasfilm, Star Wars will endure as a brand, and will likely grow stronger as a result of these trials and tribulations. One flop does not erase the profits of three gigantic hits, and it's not like Star Wars is the only franchise Disney has to dominate the box office.



    Click HERE to check out and comment on this topic on our main site
     
    #1 SWNN Probe, Jun 4, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
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  2. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi Commander

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    @Trevor, pretty sure this is exactly what you were talking about
     
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  3. Trevor

    Trevor Protector of the Jedi
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    Yes it is...to a "T".

    I deleted the comment, but left the quote in your post for reference.

    For all onlookers, see Cantina Rule #12...and the rest of them as well. :)
     
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  4. KeithF1138

    KeithF1138 Rebel General

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    The more I think about it if you werent a Star Wars fan nearly everything you heard about Solo from the start was negative. Even when it was announced there was negativity. Now most GA dont see all the stuff, but some of the stuff. When the whole director shake up happened, press was negative, negative, negative. That's just what happens. Again GA doesn't see all the stuff, but some of the stuff. Last fall was all about TLJ. Very little information about Solo. They should have put out more of an old fashioned teaser that basically just an announcement type trailer. Like remember the 1st ESB or ROTJ teasers with no footage. Just with narrator and basically saying. "See how Han Solo meets Chewbacca, see how Han Solo and Lando become friends, crime lords run the underworld, blah blah" with like the falcon jumping to light speed and out of the light become "Solo, A Star Wars Story" coming May 25th 2018.

    This the trailer I was thinking about. Something like this. Very little footage.
     
    #4 KeithF1138, Jun 4, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
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  5. singlern05

    singlern05 Rebel General

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    Great post but I don't know about the suggestion that a Solo sequel gets made for a streaming service as opposed to theaters. Just because Solo isn't performing well doesn't mean it isn't a great movie or that they shouldn't build upon it. They need some sense of continuity for general audiences going forward. Making random stand-alone films that have nothing to do with each other I think will only lead to more poor showings at the box office. But let's say they tie in Solo to the Boba Fett movie and then eventually cast a new Leia & Luke and do movies about them and Solo during the OT era and eventually to the Post-ROTJ era. Then I think general audiences will really catch on because you'll have ongoing, related stories with actors that audiences will grow familiar with.

    I do love the suggestion that they let Indie directors cut their teeth on streaming content and let the proven veterans handle the theater productions. That needs to happen given all of the drama and budget problems. How about a Steven Spielberg Star Wars movie?
     
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  6. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi Commander

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    Agreed.

    Solo unfortunately underperformed, but we're still in the wake of the outrage at TLJ.

    I have a strong feeling that if we were to get something like a gang war between Jabba and Maul (which seems very possible at this point) and may even feature Fett, people's curiosity would more piqued than what was previously billed this time as a Solo origin film.

    By the way, one thing I loved about Solo was when it deviated from what we felt we already knew about him. The Kessel Run was really cool, for instance, but the train heist and standoff with Enfys Nest was arguably much cooler. Imagine a whole film with amazing moments like that!

    And also, to be honest, I don't love the idea that a sequel would be canned because of poor reception of one film. And I think it's extremely clear, in my opinion, that Solo sets up for a sequel quite obviously. It might not be the strongest business practices, but I think Disney should still try to bring that sequel to fruition, while investigating how they can avoid Solo's pitfalls.
     
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  7. Wolfpack

    Wolfpack Rebel General

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    This is a very good article, but a couple minor nitpicks:

    1) It really isn't really to compare Disney's first 4 Star Wars movies to Disney's first 6 Marvel movies. When they bought LFL, Star Wars was the single most dominant franchise there was. Marvel Studios was brand new.

    2) The article has a lot of "ok Star Wars did poorly but Disney is still making a lot of money with their other properties so everything is OK." Quite honestly, I don't give a rat's behind how much money Disney is making. What I want to know is how this movie will impact LFL and the SWG going forward. What creative decisions will be made/changed as result?

    3) LFL shouldn't panic - but they should be at least a little concerned. It's this movie the "new norm" for non-main-Episodic Star Wars installments? Let's hope not, though I confess I fear it just might be.

    I think the next 6 months or so are going to involve some huge decisions for this franchise, decisions which will shape the long term future of the GFFA. We all know E9 comes out next year, but right now is that time to plan what to do after that. I don't envy the people making those decisions.
     
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  8. zazeron

    zazeron Rebelscum

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    5 year break is needed to create a coherent and interesting plan. Frankly the age of "pitch this story and we will make it happen"(that define rogue one and solo) needs to end. All stories need to have strong pitchs and feed into the larger plan going forward.

    Anything else regardless of "passion" needs to be utterly destroyed.
     
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  9. Wolfpack

    Wolfpack Rebel General

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    This post raises an interesting question and a sort of personal conundrum. I want Star Wars to be special and unique and a huge event each time a movie gets released. However, I also want more than 1 Star Wars movie every 3 years, with 10+ year breaks between trilogies. As much as I want it, I recognize I can't have it both ways.

    My preference is the option which gives us more movies. 1 per year seems a reasonable amount, so I hope that's the direction they go for the post-E9 world.
     
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  10. zazeron

    zazeron Rebelscum

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    they can maintain that "event" feel if they focus on creating multiple interlocking trilogies with UNIQUE subjects and great directors and bring them all together each time a film crossover is produced.

    setting all in the old republic era or the post episode 9 era(centuries after) can work nicely
     
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  11. ZDTemplar

    ZDTemplar Rebel Trooper

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    Why does it have to be only movies? Have 1 SW movie every 3 years, but then quality TV shows in the meantime, ala Clone Wars. Wouldn't a Solo origin story and Corellia, and the crime syndicates be better explored in a weekly setting, not in one movie?
     
  12. zazeron

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  13. KeithF1138

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  14. McDiarmid

    McDiarmid Force Sensitive

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    If not corrected Disney Star Wars will be Darth Plagueis like tragedy.

    Anyone who wants really to help , please show this to Disney for sake of all of us.

    3 biggest business mistakes by Disney .

    Video:
    Warning, Alex Baker uses rough vocabulary and makes personal insults,...Jet if Disney analysts can endure this, (like we endured The Last Jedi insults) , in this video of a guy with IQ 200 there are truths that can save the franchise.

    MOD EDIT: WE WILL NOT BE SHARING AND PROMOTING HATE VIDEOS ON THIS FORUM PER RULE #12
     
    #14 McDiarmid, Jun 6, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2018
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  15. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi Commander

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    I'm totally with you on this.

    I think that in a world where we get 3 Marvel films a year now and sometimes up to 2 DC films, it's strange that people complain about annualization of Star Wars.

    I also vehemently disagree with the arguments that Star Wars can't be as varied as Marvel has been.

    If anything, I would say that I could see some overzealous fans unwilling to allow Star Wars to expand. That seems like a distinct possibility.
     
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  16. KeithF1138

    KeithF1138 Rebel General

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    Going to bring this up. Is Solo and/or TLJ effected by todays real world politics.

    Why would I even ask this. This isnt does Disney have some sort of agenda for Star Wars. Talking about real world people (including me) having political views. People we all know and love. It is pretty safe to say that most of the people involved with Star Wars that have presented a public view of Donald Trump for instance are not fans.

    Carrie Fisher went after him relentlessly. Mark Hamill goes after him relentlessly. Even Harrison Ford has made negative comments about Trump. I dont believe any of the directors have expressed positive views towards Trump and the alt-right. The foreign actors havent said as much, although I have heard John Boyega comment on race. I could go on, but lets just say that it is safe to say at least in public there are next to 0 Trump and alt-right supporters.

    This also gets inflated because of what people who actively dont support Trump and the alt-right. The real world people who are against Trump latched onto being called "The Resistance". On Twitter the hashtag #TheResistance is combination of Star Wars and pushing back at Trump. When Senator Warren was criticized by Senator McConnel with the comment "Nevertheless She Persisted" it was Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia was plastered on TShirts with that comment. I have a Resist T-Shirt that is Star Wars and anti Trump. Breitbart and alt-right tried to create a boycott of Rogue One. Infowars published videos about Star Wars representing Obama taking over and Star Wars SJW agenda. Etc.

    So has this influenced to any measurable degree the box office and commentary about Star Wars?
     
    #16 KeithF1138, Jun 6, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
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  17. McDiarmid

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    I am free to put critics not just on OP reasoning but on general mainstream explanations why Solo failed, (which OP missionary reflects).

    Whatever be the reasons why Solo failed in its opening weekend Solo is objectively good and entertaining film, and a Star Wars film (87 % IMDb rating, 65% audience score on tommato, for comparisson The Last Jedi holds 46 % approval of the public) --

    [​IMG]

    Whatever be the reason why Solo started below expectations (mainstream expectations), this film should by now improve in box Office considering its a good Star Wars film and should count on Galactic size of its (once) available public !.

    Or at least Solo should hold on in the box Office.

    Star Wars brand? Ever heard of it? That ment something, obviously until now.

    Solo is in free fall, a stall, catastrophic fall unseen ever in film history for a film frachise of this esteem. I even have a feeling it would do better if it was not Star Wars film but some independent SF western.

    So this is a major crysis of entire Star Wars as a sociologic and cultural phenomenon

    Alfter just 10 days Solo is fast approaching the end of its box Office run.

    from: Mayo box Office analythics.
    [​IMG]

    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=daily&id=untitledhansolostarwarsanthologyfilm.htm

    So,something else is happening, and it can only be described as dissent in the general public, a new phenomenon of contempt for Star Wars, start of which can be clearly tracked to moment of responce of the faithful public on The Last Jedi.

    Hamans when looked as a society are weird machine. The day before they warship French Emperor,as Sun God, and take everything from it as blessing, next day they burn the Bastille and start revolution and cut Emperor's head. One day they warship you, next day they hate you with the same passion the loved you.

    Star Wars require strenght to aknowledge this moment, and wisdom to reverse this, not stupid stubbortness and clishe low-intellectual approach of damage control and even attempt of moderation of public opinion, which can make situation even worse.

    Take my advice.
    Please.
     
    #17 McDiarmid, Jun 6, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
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  18. DailyPlunge

    DailyPlunge Jedi Commander

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    I could see a Solo sequel being made if they can control the budget. Solo is going to lose money because of the director fiasco. Had they been able to get the film made on time with original directors it would have helped marketing and they could have made a modest profit.
     
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  19. Shadowblade

    Shadowblade Rebel Trooper

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    Here's another editorial explaining why Kathleen Kennedy should stay on:

    http://theweek.com/articles/775857/dont-fire-kathleen-kennedy-over-solo

    The interesting thing here is the narrative. It has changed from unthinkable and laughable, to be an actual alternative after Solo.
     
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  20. Darth_Mu

    Darth_Mu Rebelscum

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    ^another editorial about SW fans blaming people for their sex (gender).
    Can they just admit that KK made some (bad?)decisions that cost Disney money?
    and this editorial, first they attack men were bad in the 70-80's and now they still hire JJ.
    What happened to talk with the famous female director?
     
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