Analyzing The Box Office Failure
Solo: A Star Wars story is failing at the box office. How did this happen? Some websites will have you believe that the people are experiencing Star Wars fatigue, with Solo coming out only a couple of months after The Last Jedi. Some say that the boycott is single-handedly responsible. Many people say that nobody wanted this movie. Others blame it on all the bad media attention. And one internet troll suggests that white male leads are Box Office poison, by conveniently ignoring any and all data that proves him wrong. Let’s analyze the real arguments.
The first argument, Star Wars fatigue, gets the most attention. People debunk it by comparing it to Marvel's successes with even less time between movies. And while this is certainly true, it's comparing apples with oranges. Marvel movies are a different beast than Star Wars. They're popcorn-flicks with little depth, and they're enjoyed that way. The characters are good, but not great. The stories are fun, but not deep. One of the major gripes with The Last Jedi is that the humor was misplaced; taking the tension out of a menacing situation and thereby making that situation less impactful. But that's exactly what Marvel consistently does as well, and almost nobody complains about that. Why? Because it's what is expected from our beloved superheroes, and that can be traced all the way back to the comics. When we go to see a Star Wars movie, we expect more. Despite the issues with the prequels, the greatness was there. This is why Revenge of the Sith is my favorite movie, despite it having more issues than Empire Strikes Back. So fatigue only applies when too many movies follow each other up too fast, without delivering what the fans want out of them. And this is really what it comes down to: Marvel Studios listened to the fans, while Lucasfilm publicly attacked Star Wars fans and completely tossed their opinions aside.
This brought on the boycott, which is trickier to analyze because there are no hard numbers. Alex Becker has a reasonably big following, with 289k, but Star Wars fans are not his target audience so it's hard to determine how many people he actually convinced. Other Youtube channels have grown incredibly fast because of their very vocal stance against Disney Star Wars, but they only have up to 50k subscribers. Not all of them called for boycotting, but they do make pretty strong arguments why people should boycott if they agree with their viewpoints. And you can't really add all of those together because the majority is subscribed to multiple channels. However, the people who boycott are very vocal in their stance, so everyone who's boycotting reached people who don't feel so passionate. People who would have taken their families or friends didn't go at all, costing Solo 4 or 5 tickets. And these, as Mark Hamill calls them, Ultra-Passionate Fans would have gone multiple times, as they did with The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi. So while it's hard to really put a number on this, the impact is undeniable.
And then we come to the arguments that specifically apply to this movie; the bad media coverage. "Nobody asked for this movie." This is the absolute weakest argument out there. There are great movies made every year that nobody asked for. Nobody asked for Rogue One, but it turned out surprisingly well and interesting. And it was actually revealed that this was a movie George Lucas was already playing around with in 2012, when he sold Lucasfilm. "There were too much issues behind the scenes." This played some part in the public's general interest. The acting coach for Alden Ehrenreich was a very big issue for people, which I don't really understand. First of all, acting coaches are brought in all the time, and secondly it would only help his performance. The news that Lando is now pansexual was badly timed, and while I doubt this is one of the major issues, it did cross a line for some people. Many just don't feel comfortable exposing their children to this, so it had some impact. But the absolute death-sentence was its reviews. All the bad media attention can become irrelevant if the movie is loved across the board. But if people are feeling like the movie isn't really needed and there were so many issues with its development, the media need to convince them that it's worth their while. Which is exactly why The Last Jedi made so much money; the critics gave it absurdly high scores. Most of the Ultra-Passionate Fans went multiple times before they realized its abundance of issues.
All these factors played a part. The Box Office failure shows the world that Star Wars is no automatic guarantee of success anymore. Lucasfilm realizes they will have to change their direction in order to be profitable. Time will tell if they learn from this mistake.
Article by: Joel "Mith" Storms