It’s a shame that Disney mishandled the Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, because it’s a pretty good science fiction movie. I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old grandson that loves the movie and wants to watch it over and over again. As a movie it does what its supposed to, it inspires young people to think about complicated engineering and physics problems while they are still conceptual kids framing their entire lives in front of them. Big colorful movies like that particular Star Wars film are great as change agents in our culture for positive outlooks. The movie is by far one of the best Star Wars films in general but unfortunately it looks like it will be the last one. By reading the many articles on a year in review for 2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story was considered a financial bomb by current analytical standards but what I see is a huge campaign by a bunch of screwy Disney executives to save their jobs because it was they who screwed up the movie in the short run. But in the context of history Solo: A Star Wars Story will be one of the better ones and will be remembered for many years to come. Disney if they were smart would make more of them while they can still get the actors.
Problem number one is that movies now are based on international box office results, which means many communist and socialist countries have a say in whether movies do well or not. I would argue that none of the original Star Wars movies or Indiana Jones films for that matter would have done well in a market that considered international box office as a driver of success. To do that a film has to represent all the people of the world in some way, and that isn’t easy to do. It’s an unrealistic expectation for a company like Disney to do it over and over again. In their titles that are directed specifically to children, all children of the world want the same kinds of things, so billion-dollar money makers are more obtainable. But a Star Wars film with mature content in them is a different story. I think the world would have eventually accepted Solo: A Star Wars Story but the ideas of Han Solo are not universally global, they are specifically American—so international markets have a difficult time relating. Disney should have had a longer view of what Solo was and not expected it to perform well on a first run in international markets.
The other thing is that Disney screwed up the Star Wars fan base. First they put out the new films not consistent with the books that fans grew up with—which was a real problem. Then they released The Last Jedi before Solo: A Star Wars Story. If they were going to mess with the formula of Star Wars, they should have given fans the traditional Star Wars story before changing the game on them with The Last Jedi. When Solo: A Star Wars Story came out 6 months after The Last Jedi people were still very angry at the trilogy film that embarked on the further journeys of Rey, Finn and Kylo Ryn. The direction of that film was too drastic, unsatisfying, and way too politically progressive. Not even my two-year-old grandson likes that movie. I have tried to show it to him, but its slow, the action scenes aren’t often enough, and it just has a heavy hand thematically. It’s not light on its feet the way Star Wars movies are supposed to be and it hurts the film. I personally think it’s a pretty good movie with ambitious ideas, but these movies have to realize that it is children who are their target audience, and to stick with it.
A huge mistake that was made in connection to the sequencing of releases was that Disney should not have tried to rush Solo: A Star Wars Story to theaters for a summer release. They should have waited until Christmas. Disney for whatever reason thought that a Mary Poppins sequel was going to be really successful. But as of the turn of the year the film has only made around $100 million domestically. Around $170 million internationally. Those are actually really bad numbers considering Disney wanted to clear the slate for Mary Poppins to do well over the holiday season. Auquaman didn’t do much better which was the other big release. These films aren’t exactly lighting it up at the box office and these are the best that studios are putting out. Disney should have put Solo out over Christmas and the numbers would have been much better. They needed time to repair the Star Wars brand after The Last Jedi and to take away the summer competition which had a lot of really good films to compete with including an Avengers film which soaked up the box office in the previous weekends then had another Jurassic World film hitting a few weeks after Solo. Too many movies and not enough dollars to spend on them all. In a world of such tight competition, people weren’t sure they were ready to see someone besides Harrison Ford play Han Solo, so they went to see other films instead. But that people weren’t ready doesn’t mean the movie was bad, it was just going to take some time to get used to.
I know there are some high-level Disney execs who read here and are curious as to what happened to them in 2018. I tried to tell you guys—don’t make movies at the back of the train, get to the front. Solo was a good movie and you should do more of them. Cut the budget to half what you had in the first film and just let the movies do their thing. Movies like that are change agents which set the industry standards. They don’t always have it built-in where they can make a market splash within two weeks on their way toward a billion dollars. Sometimes it takes people time to figure out that they love a movie and those are the ones that stick around. If you are going to make Star Wars movies look to change the rules of box office acquisition, don’t try to follow them. While we wait for more Star Wars films, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have more movies with Han and Chewie to fill story gaps that will still be fun to watch thirty years from now. Just don’t spend a fortune on them and keep them lean on the business end and let them do their thing. I think Disney would find them to be enormously successful. Just don’t listen to the media critics, they don’t know what they are talking about. Show the films to 2-year olds and if they want to watch them over and over again, then you can know you have a good Star Wars movie. It’s not really any more complicated than that. So don’t make it that way. But you should do it quickly because those actors are getting old, and there are still some great fun stories about Han Chewie and the Millennium Falcon that need to be told.
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