Solo A Star Wars Story easily claimed the top spot at the US box office over Memorial Day Weekend, but it was far far away from the record-breaking open Disney had anticipated.
Early reports suggested that Solo was on track for a $160-170 million four day domestic launch which would have bested Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End's ($139 million) record for a Memorial Day opening weekend. Those tentative predictions proved too ambitious and by Saturday Solo was looking at a $130 million launch. The exact numbers won't be clear until later in the week, but at the time of writing Solo is set for a four day opening weekend of $101 million. To put that in perspective, Rogue One generated $155 million form a three day weekend, Solo's three-day take on $84 million is almost half that of the previous Star Wars standalone.
Once upon a time (or about ten years ago), movies with troubled productions didn't really play into the casual moviegoer's decision whether or not to buy a ticket. However, in the social media age, the positive or negative buzz surrounding a movie can profoundly influence the opening weekend. It's no secret that the previous Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, had some production problems that led Tony Gilroy (Bourne Legacy) restructuring the film and overseeing reshoots. Gareth Jennings still retained his director's credit, and by all accounts, the first Star Wars standalone spin-off was a success both critically and commercially.
The production woes that led to Ron Howard replacing Phil Lord and Chris Miller are just a part of the reason Solo is struggling to make Star Wars money. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi enjoyed big box office hauls thanks to their Christmas release; it's still unclear why Solo has deviated from a tried and tested release schedule, but what is clear is that competing in the summer against Deadpool 2, and Infinity War was a mistake.
The fan anticipation for anything Star Wars related is a huge factor in the ongoing success of the revived franchise. To put it simply, The Last Jedi only recently left cinemas and hit Home Entertainment; there's not been enough time between the two for fans to be amped up about Solo. Without spoiling it for those that have yet to see it, Solo is a profoundly uneven movie yet it manages to be a lot of fun especially when Donald Glover's pitch-perfect Lando is on screen. If Disney has any sense, they'll give serious consideration to a Lando spin-off.