After months of hype and fanfare, including (but not limited to) a Super Bowl spot, a cross-country Millennium Falcon promotion, and a glitzy screening at the Cannes Film Festival, "Solo: A Star Wars Story" finally debuted in North American theaters this week (as well as in many territories around the world). And while it handily topped the box office, its debut isn't exactly something they're going to make a point of celebrating at Disney or Lucasfilm.
As of this writing, the "Star Wars" spin-off is struggling to top $100 million for the four-day Memorial Day weekend. To put things in perspective, the Ryan Reynolds-led "Deadpool 2" opened last weekend to $130 million; internationally "Deadpool 2's" debut doubled what "Solo" will end up making – and that's with a shorter, non-holiday weekend and more limited audiences given its restrictive R-rating.
While, should "Solo" clear $101 million, is obviously an impressive debut, it pales in comparison to other "Star Wars" openings of the Disney era, with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" bringing in a then-record $248 million in 2015 and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" taking in $220 million this past December. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," which is probably the closest comparable movie to "Solo," in that it's a spin-off movie away from the main "saga" narrative through line, took in $155 million in its opening weekend (that film ended up making more than $1 billion worldwide).
While it's unclear what, exactly, went wrong with "Solo," it is worth noting that this is the closest any two "Star Wars" movies have opened next to each other, with the spin-off debuting five months after the last film. Also worth noting is that the previous "Star Wars" installments in this new era have all opened at Christmas, in relatively sparser marketplace conditions. (Those conditions also allowed for the "Star Wars" movies to be more of a family event, complete with all sorts of merchandise and promotional tie-ins flooding shelves for the Christmas holiday.)
This, of course, is not the end for "Star Wars," and the close proximity of "Solo" and "The Last Jedi" means that the wait until the still-untitled ninth installment of the saga films will be even longer, with nearly 18 months to go until that J.J. Abrams-directed film is unleashed.
While "Solo: A Star Wars Story" is all anybody can talk about in regards to this weekend's box office, and it was the only major release of the week, there were still some notable holdovers. "Deadpool 2" stuck around in the #2 slot with $42.7 million (down a steep 66% from last weekend), while "Avengers: Infinity War" was #3 with another $16.5 million, which makes it now the sixth most successful film at the all-time domestic box office (unadjusted for inflation); it's total global haul is at $1.9 million, making it in spitting distance from the $2 billion mark. At #4 "Book Club" continues to charm audiences; with $9.5 million for the weekend and $12 million for the holiday, it comfortably puts the film in "sleeper hit" status with a domestic total of $34.2 million.Perhaps even more remarkably, Magnolia Pictures' excellent Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary "RBG," finally cracked the top ten after expanding in the past few weeks. Coming in at #10 with $1.5 million, it has now grossed $6 million, making it the most successful documentary of the year (so far).