Once again, Star Wars is dominating the cinematic conversation. The Rise of Skywalker promises to tie up the Skywalker saga — and the complex relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren — but let’s consider the journey the franchise has been on. More specifically, let’s talk about the one film that is generally considered a letdown.
‘Solo’: a ‘Star Wars’ flop
Since Disney assumed ownership, we’ve gotten one Star Wars film every year. Interspersed between the “episodes” of the Skywalker saga, fans were treated to standalone adventures Rogue One and Solo. Although every other film has broken $1 billion worldwide, Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story topped out at $392 million.
For most films, such a turnout might be a cause for celebration. Yet, with the Star Wars brand behind it and a reported $275 million budget, Solo was quickly labeled a failure. Was the film’s May 2018 release too soon after The Last Jedi divided the fanbase? Or did the Star Wars audience simply lack interest in seeing a young Han Solo?
Why the film didn’t connect with audiences
Every fan might have a different opinion about why Solo underperformed. However, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan recently shared his thoughts about why the film disappointed.
“The studio blew it,” Kasdan said, “but that’s not unusual.”
Kasdan’s involvement with Star Wars began with The Empire Strikes Back. So he was excited about the prospect of writing for Han Solo again, this time alongside his son Jonathan. Yet, the production on Solo was fraught with so many issues that it’s difficult to decipher exactly how the studio mishandled the film.
Famously, Lucasfilm brought on 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller to direct the film. But the pair left the project midway through production, opening the doors for Ron Howard to step in. Perhaps Kasdan credits this snafu for driving up the film’s budget. Or he could be bluntly addressing the marketing, which failed to excite some fans.
The end of standalone ‘Star Wars’?
Whatever the case may be, the mixed-at-best fan response to Solo has been impactful enough to lead Lucasfilm hesitant about standalone films. The film’s in-development Boba Fett movie gave way to the similarly themed Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Then the long-rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi film became a limited series instead.
In fact, the future of big-screen Star Wars beyond The Rise of Skywalker is completely up in the air (and not in a space travel kind of way). Rian Johnson’s trilogy may still be happening, but updates are nonexistent. Plus, this week brought news that Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss left their own Star Wars film.
All Star Wars fans can say now is: “Help us, Kevin Feige, you’re own only hope.”
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