Solo is a wonderfully fun summer adventure movie. But a lot of people don’t care. They look at the box office numbers and say “it didn’t make money, it must not be good.” We all know that isn’t true, as there are a ton of bad movies (like the Transformers series) that make a ton of dough, and of course, there are really great movies that don’t find an audience in their theatrical run.
The reason for Solo‘s less than stellar performance has been theorized about. From backlash to The Last Jedi to not wanting to see someone other than Harrison Ford encapsulate the role, to all the behind the scenes drama, people have compelling arguments about why Solo underperformed. But the real reason could be less exciting than all of that.
We think the movie’s biggest problem was its marketing. To illustrate,
here is the original teaser trailer for Rogue One. It came out 247 days before the movie’s release, starting an extensive hype campaign for the film. The first 35 seconds of the trailer almost exclusively focuses on Felicity Jones as the protagonist Jyn Erso, selling her as a new franchise hero. The second half is dominated by the Imperial alert klaxon and Forest Whitaker’s voice over, and practically screams ‘EPIC’ at the viewer, before closing on another hero shot of Jones.
Now contrast that to the original teaser trailer for Solo, which came out just 108 days before the movie, offering a far shorter hype window. Disney’s marketing department, in our opinion, had one job: sell audiences on Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo (who we thought did a creditable job in the movie with very tough shoes to fill). The teaser, by our count, only had about 10 seconds of screen time where Ehrenreich’s face was clearly in the picture – not, in our opinion, nearly enough. In general, we felt like the Solo marketing campaign didn’t get fully up to speed until about a month before the movie came out, and that is simply too short of a window for a big franchise picture.
They address why it isn’t the other reasons too.
Fatigue. – The document states that if Star Wars fatigue happened already, that Marvel fatigue would have happened a long time ago.
If this were the case, though, one would think Marvel would be having even bigger problems, with four Marvel-branded films having come out in the last six months (Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Deadpool 2). Clearly, that hasn’t been the case.
However, if the franchise was able to survive Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, we have a hard time believing Last Jedi could have done that much damage.
Production Issues – They point out that most casual fans have no idea. They’re right. My Dad, for example, will see Solo eventually. He knows who Ron Howard is, but outside of that, he won’t know how Ron Howard came to direct the movie, nor does he care.
[W]hile widely reported in the trade press, this is still very much an ‘inside baseball’ thing that we think audiences at large were only dimly aware of.
The analysis is sound to me. I do believe the film wasn’t marketed correctly. The Hollywood Reporter says that Disney will lose somewhere between $50 to $80 Million on Solo. That is rare for Disney, but they will bounce back just fine.
You never know, Solo could find better footing once it is released on home media. Maybe people will finally give it a fair shake and see what they were missing.