Solo Bombs | UK Box Office Report 25-27th May 2018

Just one week removed from the debut of Deadpool 2 at the worldwide box office, Disney and Lucasfilm have released their latest powerhouse Star Wars movie in Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars StoryCould Disney reclaim the top spot on the UK box office chart after a strong pre-DP2 run with Avengers: Infinity War? And is it possible that the increased competition made for less overall earnings across the top 3? We’ll dive deep throughout the course of this week’s report, but first: the top 5 movies at the UK box office for the weekend of 25-27th May 2018:

Hitting an exact total of £6,061,231 (including Thursday previews), Solo: A Star Wars Story was able to take the number 1 spot at the UK box office this weekend, but its success in terms of its chart position does come with a few caveats…

The first and most glaring is that this Star Wars movie has had by far the worst reaction of any Disney-owned Star Wars release yet, earning just 40% of what Rogue One did in the traditional Friday to Sunday weekend period, accumulating just £4.85million compared to Rogue One’s £13.2million. With Thursday previews included, the picture looks even worse for Solo, as Rogue One posted £17.3million for the four day period, some £11.3million more than its fellow A Star Wars Story branded film. Previews included, this is how Solo stacks up to the other Disney released Star Wars films over the course of its opening weekend:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Dec 2015 – £34million
  2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Dec 2017 – £28million
  3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Dec 2016 – £17.3million
  4. Solo: A Star Wars Story – May 2018 – £6.1million

Perhaps most damaging for Lucasfilm and Disney is the fact that the three day opening weekend gross of just £4.85million means that this latest Star Wars release has earned less than 21 separate 2017 releases did over the same time frame, including the likes of Kong: Skull Island and Fifty Shades Darker. Even tent-pole under-performer Blade Runner 2049 opened to a larger figure, £6.1million, on its way to a relatively lacklustre £18.9million total UK box office accumulation. Blade Runner 2049 lasted less than 2 months in cinemas before being cut, despite facing less competition than Solo will encounter in the coming weeks, making a similarly as lucrative £18-20million run seem way out of reach for the new Star Wars movie; a disastrous return for such a huge franchise entry.

Here’s Solo in comparison to the top box office openings in 2018 thus far (including previews):

  1. Avengers: Infinity War – £29.4million
  2. Black Panther – £17.7million
  3. Deadpool 2 – £13million
  4. Peter Rabbit – £7.3million
  5. Solo: A Star Wars Story – £6.1million
  6. Coco – £5.2million
  7. Darkest Hour – £4.1million
  8. Rampage – £4.1million

The poor performance of Solo over the course of this weekend has left it over £1million behind family animated Easter movie Peter Rabbit, which nobody could have foreseen happening, and sitting at less than half of Deadpool 2 which was released just last week. Remarkably, Avengers: Infinity War earned £10.1million in its 2nd weekend and £5.7million in its 3rd weekend, two figures which dwarf the three day accumulation of £4.85million for SoloFor any movie to outperform a fellow big-budget tent-pole in its 2nd weekend is extraordinary, but to do so in its 3rd weekend is almost unheard of and speaks volumes as to how well Infinity War performed but also how badly Solo has performed.

The picture doesn’t get any rosier for Solo in the international markets either, with a total accumulation of $103million over the four day Memorial Day weekend in North America, including a three day total of $84million. In comparison to other Star Wars movies, that release places Solo as follows (when including previews):

  1. The Force Awakens – $288million
  2. The Last Jedi – $242million
  3. Rogue One – $173million
  4. Revenge of the Sith – $158million
  5. Attack of the Clones – $110million
  6. Solo – $103million

Not only has it been dwarfed by close to $70million by fellow A Star Wars Story release Rogue One, but it also actually earned less than all three Star Wars prequels – The Phantom Menace; Attack of the Clones; Revenge of the Sith – when the box office figures are adjusted for inflation.

Worldwide, Solo also set the 2nd lowest grossing modern-era Star Wars opening with a $147.5million (£111million) bow. Here’s what that looks like in comparison to the rest of the franchise [not adjusted for inflation]:

  1. The Force Awakens – $529million
  2. The Last Jedi – $451million
  3. Rogue One – $290million
  4. Revenge of the Sith – $254million
  5. Attack of the Clones – $149million
  6. Solo – $147.5million
  7. The Phantom Menace – $105million

As expected, Solo hasn’t even come close to the central franchise openings of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but a debut of around only half of what Rogue One accumulated equates to a huge disaster for Disney and Lucasfilm; not to mention how it earned less than Episode II – Attack of the Clones which was released some 16 years ago.

This has risen the question of whether Solo: A Star Wars Story could be the first ever Star Wars branded live-action financial flop; something that certainly seems possible.

Traditionally, blockbuster movies are heavily front loaded (they earn as much as 50% in their opening weekend, 30% if they have strong legs), but Solo is facing tougher competition more frequently than most movies in the weeks to come and will continue to share screens with Infinity War and Deadpool 2 until the likes of Jurassic World 2 and The Incredibles 2 arrive. Even if Solo was to double its opening weekend worldwide total to $300million, it may not be enough for the movie to earn its money back at the box office, with production costing a rumoured $250-280million and marketing for big releases such as this costing anywhere from 40-60% of the production budget – we’ll say $130million to be safe – making for a $400million (or so) milestone that would now take an impressive comeback from this movie to salvage.

So how and why has a Star Wars branded summer blockbuster somehow managed to end up in such a dire situation? It’s likely because of a number of factors…

The first and likely biggest reason for the poor opening performance is that this past weekend was one of the biggest sporting weekends in the calendar, with the US showcasing their NBA finals and over 400 million people watching the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid. If people are watching events such as these, in numbers so large, they’re certainly not seeing the new Solo movie, and are therefore less likely to be talking about it too, decreasing the word of mouth usually earned by films of this type.

The second reason is that The Last Jedi was so divisive that it left many a hardcore Star Wars fan wanting to stay away from the new release, either out of protest or a general disinterest brought about by their disappointment in Episode 8.

Disney will also likely attribute the unusually warm and sunny weather in Europe as one defining factor of its lacklustre performance, though fingers can be pointed at the distributor for placing the film 4 weeks away from Infinity War off the back of production problems and the bad word of mouth that comes with that, as well as its short-sighted scheduling of the film just 3 months removed from The Last Jedi‘s final days in cinemas.

Regardless of the reasons (or the excuses), Star Wars no longer seems like an untouchable juggernaut of the box office, leaving Disney to ponder their strategies moving forward and likely their Star Wars related film schedule, too.

Here are the top 15 films at the UK box office for the weekend 25-27th May 2018:

  1. Solo: A Star Wars Story – weeks on release: 1 – weekend: £6,061,231 – total: £6,061,231
  2. Deadpool 2 – 2 – £3,771,293 – £20,682,579
  3. Avengers: Infinity War – 5 – £1,215,206 – £66,138,820
  4. Sherlock Gnomes – 3 – £689,914 – £4,343,619
  5. Show Dogs – 1 – £546,405 – £546,405
  6. I Feel Pretty – 4 – £278,748 – £4,467,136
  7. Blade Runner: The Final Cut – £227,194 – £3,417,728
  8. On Chesil Beach – 2 – £170,841 – £288,350
  9. Peter Rabbit – 11 – £118,214 – £40,344,166
  10. Life of the Party – 3 – £112,995 – £1,409,252
  11. Breaking In – 3 – £81,398 – £969,030
  12. The Breadwinner – 1 – £79,329 – £79,329
  13. A Quiet Place – 8 – £70,675 – £11,801,912
  14. Edie – 1 – £68,555 – £68,555
  15. Event Cinema: McKellen Playing the Part – 1 – £41,110 – £41,110

This week’s 2nd highest grossing movie Deadpool 2 suffered an extraordinarily large 75% drop from its opening weekend, but because of its strong mid-week figures has still managed to top £20million over 2 weekends here in the UK on its way to a $500million 11 day worldwide accumulation (5-times its budget).

Avengers: Infinity War also remains a million pound per weekend movie despite having just surpassed its 5th weekend at the box office, and it’s quickly catching up on Beauty and the Beast as the 2nd highest grossing movie since the beginning of 2017, sitting just £700,000 off the remake of the animated classic of the same name on £66.1million overall. While here in the UK Infinity War seems unlikely to set any box office records or even come close to the all time top 5, it currently sits just $90million away from a $2billion worldwide gross, a total that would place it in an exclusive group of movies currently occupied by only Avatar, Titanic and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

And finally, a quick note on A Quiet Place which seems to be on its way out of the chart after an incredibly impressive 8 week run; impressive because it’s seen the movie recoup almost all of its £12.8million budget in the UK alone (£11.8million) on its way to a £235million ($312million) worldwide accumulation, making it a likely candidate for most profitable film of the year.

Next week, we’ll have a more clear picture of the winners and losers of the box office as Solo battles a 2nd weekend drop off against the likes of Deadpool 2 and Infinity War which are quietly waiting in the wings to add to its misery, as well as more full chart coverage. As always, we’ll have the UK box office top 5 chart with you via our YouTube channel on Tuesday (so make sure to subscribe), but until then please bookmark our homepage, help us to reach 1,000 likes by liking us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for all of the latest and greatest film industry updates and features from the team here at The Film Magazine.

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