Solo: A Star Wars Story is the least successful Star Wars film ever. Unless a major revival (by some sheer magic) brings the film back to the attention of domestic and, especially, international audiences, Solo is set to plummet harder than any major Disney release since Tomorrowland. Doug Creutz, a media analyst for Cowen, reports (via deadline) that Solo is projected to only bring in $200 million total domestically. The previous Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi, earned a staggering $620 million, making it the 7th highest grossing film in U.S. box office history.
While domestic numbers are not hopeful, Solo faces an even more dire situation on the international market, especially in China. Thus far making up only 75% of its global cume in its international gross, the lowest percentage in any Star Wars entry or spinoff, the Ron Howard-directed space western has failed to bring much interest to audiences in China (which is soon to become the biggest global box office market). The film is unlikely to make even $20 million, a depressingly tiny sum that doesn’t even compare to the biggest box office bombs of 2017, such as Passengers (which earned $45.2 million) and Assassin’s Creed ($22.4 million).
It is known that China is not keen on the George Lucas-created space franchise, partly because the original films never even saw a wide-release in the country. Today, it seems unlikely that Chinese audiences will readily engage with heavily nostalgia- driven, easter-egg-filled spinoffs and continuations of the main franchises. The Force Awakens began the revival of the films in China on strong footing, earning $124 million in 2016. Ever since then, though, the numbers have been going down, and so has general interest in the series.
The Chinese release of Solo is a great example of how films that fail to deliver on quality (and only expect to bring people to the theaters due to their franchise status) are bound to fail. In China, the Star Wars brand simply lacks the pre-existing culture that could generate hype for a prequel spin-off project that exploits nostalgia as its main force of interest and excitement. Solo has so far received the poorest reviews out of any of the recently released Star Wars films, which also hasn’t helped its box office prospects. In order to attract Chinese audiences to their properties, Disney must attempt to capitalize on newly-found interest and changing trends in the industry, similar to what they have done with their Marvel flicks, which have earned wide-spread popularity in the Middle Kingdom.