MONDAY UPDATE, WRITETHRU: Disney/Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story came in with a confirmed $68.2M in the actuals for its international box office bow this weekend. The Millennium Falcon has been through some tough space battles before, and even if this is above the Sunday estimate of $65M, it’s still a very disappointing result for the film that’s been decently received by critics and offers its share of fun summer popcorn action. The haul is far below industry projections and the global total, including domestic‘s 3-day launch, is $153M.
Contrary to most event pictures, Star Wars movies are not heavily weighted to offshore turnstiles. The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi each pulled in less than 55% of their money from overseas. Still, the numbers we’re seeing from this debut weekend on a movie that got a massive promotional push at the recent Cannes Film Festival are soft, and no deflector shield is going to change that.
Disney’s worldwide distribution chief Dave Hollis, who is exiting the studio this week after 17 years, allowed that expectations were certainly higher on the movie and said Mouse execs will “spend a lot of time digging into every question in every market to get the answer” to why Solo so under-performed. “We came into the beginning of the year with this one of the most anticipated films. We gotta spend some time looking at the exits and get a better handle on all the questions.”
What do rivals think happened? Some cite fatigue mixed with too many spinoffs, and a bad leftover taste from The Last Jedi. One source says, “I think Disney got caught milking the Star Wars franchise a little too much. Everyone acknowledged the risk of releasing another movie five months after Jedi. They really should have pushed Solo to Christmas.” Recent SW titles have had essentially clear play through the holidays while Solo now finds himself in the summer blockbuster crunch.
Another exec believes that Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 sucked a lot of wind out of the markets. “It feels like general moviegoers are making a conscious choice to wait, probably until Jurassic World 2, to see their next movie.” But I’ve been cautioned to maintain some perspective “as the numbers are still decent for a spinoff, just not Disney/Lucasfilm numbers.”
Whereas there is a sentiment domestically that the change-up in directors may have sent a message to consumers that the film was in trouble, particularly in the social media era, offshore executives don’t point immediately to that as a factor on Solo. It appears to be more a case of general audiences not rushing out to see this Story, and the slight uptick from the Sunday estimate to the actual reflects that.
For Hollis, it’s too soon to jump to “fatigue” as a reason for Solo‘s opening. “This is just the fourth movie and the first three did $4B combined. I’m not sure it’s so much that people aren’t excited for additional stories.” A silver lining here is that Episode IX isn’t due until Christmas 2019 so there will be more spacing.
Hollis also points to the MCU, noting, “We’re in a world where we’re in the same conference rooms planning Marvel movies. We have a Thor and a Black Panther and an Infinity War coming out in November and February and May and each are massively successful. They each do well and people aren’t asking these questions.”
A key difference between the Star Wars spinoffs and the MCU is that the latter’s individual character pics are all of a piece, most recently building to the ensemble behemoth Infinity War.
Taking a closer look at Solo‘s performance, the UK came in tops with $10.3M, opening at No. 1. The standalone spinoff of the epic franchise was also No. 1 in the mature European markets as well as Australia and New Zealand. That’s in line with how SW movies tend to work overseas even if the grosses are lower than would have been anticipated. There was good weather and a big Champion’s League soccer match, which likely factored.
China, which was not expected to cozy up to a young Han and Chewie or fall for Lando’s charms, ended the 3-day with $10.1M which is within the range we expected for the locally-titled Ranger Solo. The Middle Kingdom score is not a huge surprise given the lack of traction the series has been able to muster over the most recent entries which each saw diminishing returns in the PROC. The country doesn’t have the familiarity or nostalgia for the now 41-year old franchise. Ditto for some of the emerging markets in SE Asia which don’t have the legend embedded.
The China problem on Star Wars, opines an exec, “may never get solved.” But, it’s worth noting that Disney is in the enviable position of having Marvel as a mega cash generator there while Coco just had a fantastic run (possibly ending the Middle Kingdom curse on Pixar) and its titles like Lion King are bound to make up for shortfalls. One distribution exec suggests Disney “can still release Star Wars movies in China, but they need to account for low grosses in the market. They need to start making these movies for a price. You can’t spend $250M on Boba Fett which will skew very male and smaller than Rogue One and Solo.” In the wake of Solo, one could reasonably wonder at this point if Dis has a rethink on that Boba Fett movie.
But it’s not all sour news for Disney this weekend as Avengers: Infinity War now has a global cume of $1,904.7M which makes it the No. 4 global release of all time and the highest grossing MCU/superhero movie ever. Internationally, the $1,283M to date means the pic is No. 3 on the all-time overseas chart. The combined results push The Walt Disney Studios across the $4B threshold ($4.12B) at the worldwide box office for 2018 after just five months. The split is $1.638B domestic and $2.482B abroad.
Fox’s Deadpool 2, meanwhile, added $57M this frame to take its offshore cume to $279.7M. The UK continues to lead play at $28.37M followed closely by Korea’s $27.1M. The global total is nearing $500M.
Breakdowns on the films above and more have been updated below.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
As noted above, this standalone spinoff had a disappointing overseas bow of $68.2M in 54 material markets which represent 88% of the offshore footprint — Japan, a big Star Wars consumer, launches June 29. International is not a driver on this franchise whose biggest fanbase is domestic. However, the mature European markets as well as Australia (and Japan) are avid and the weekend’s roster of top bows maintains that logic, despite the soft numbers.
There were some distractions in Europe with great weather in the north while the UK and Spain were on Saturday night glued to the Champions League final match between Real Madrid and Liverpool. But what some term saturation mixed with the summer slot for this Star Wars installment clearly played a part.
Rogue One opened in December 2016 with $178M in like-for-like markets and at today’s rates. Solo came in $110M below that. Unlucky indeed because people who have gone to see the movie tend to really like it. Even this die-hard Star Wars fan, who wasn’t necessarily jazzed about a Han Solo origins movie, thought Ron Howard’s take was a fun ride. But I’ve been around since the beginning and if the franchise is looking to rope in younger viewers, a question arises as to why kids would want to know the backstory of a character they just watched die two movies ago.
There was a school of thought over the weekend that folks were perhaps just not rushing out to see Solo and that given some play and positive word of mouth, it would fare better. The problem now becomes whether the low initial turnout works as a deterrent to moviegoers weighing their options. There are giant prehistoric beasts beating down the door as Jurassic World 2 gets ready to stomp beginning June 6 overseas.
Here’s a closer look at some of the markets that opened this session on Solo. The UK leads with $10.3M, coming in above the opening weekends of Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, X-Men: Apocalypse, Maleficent and Wonder Woman. Across Europe, Solo also opened No. 1 in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Solo further bowed tops in both Australia and New Zealand with the fourth highest weekend of 2018 while Russia is too close to call.
Also as noted above, China was a disaster, although no one was expecting miracles there. Star Wars does not have a legacy in the market and the three recent titles each dropped from one to the next. With $10.1M in the Middle Kingdom, Solo came in 3rd, beaten by the 3rd weekend of cousin Avengers: Infinity War.
Following the UK and China, the top hubs are Australia ($5M), Germany ($4.3M), France ($3.9M), Russia ($3.6M), Spain ($2.6M), Mexico ($2.5M), Italy ($2.2M) and Brazil ($1.3M).
In IMAX, Solo had the 2nd best ever Memorial Day weekend result generating a worldwide cume of $15.5M.
Retaining the No. 1 spot in 27 markets, Deadpool 2 grossed another $57M. That’s a sharp 68% drop from the opening weekend, but it was facing off against Solo, despite that film’s more than lackluster debut. Holds were led by the UK ($5.1M/$28.37M cume), Australia ($4.6M/$18.6M), Korea ($4.4M/$27.1M and well topping Solo), France ($3.9M/$14.8M), Mexico ($3.58M/$15.9M) and Germany ($3.26M/$14.3M).
The South East Asia markets are also playing strongly with Taiwan at $7.9M and Indonesia at $7.1M.
The offshore cume is now $279.7M with $498M global meaning the Merc with the mouth will cross $500M in the next day or so. His last market to open is Japan on June 1.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
Disney/Marvel’s juggernaut added $32.5M in 36 material markets this weekend to bring the offshore cume to $1.283B and the global take to $1,904.7M. The mash-up is still making turnstiles spin in China where it was No. 2 in the 3rd frame behind local pic How Long Will I Love U ($81M cume). The gross there is now $336.8M to make Infinity War the No. 3 highest grossing western release ever in the Middle Kingdom. It added $18.6M this session, 66% below last weekend in what is a solid hold for the market.
Outside of China, the pic dropped by 58% across the Asia-Pacific region. As a region, estimated box office has now reached $735M, which makes this the No. 2 biggest western release of all time. It is now the top release in industry history in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India (western), Thailand (western), Vietnam and Mongolia, as well as the No. 2 release of all-time in Hong Kong and Korea (western).
In Latin America, the drop was 58% regionally with the total for the group of markets $208M. A:IW is now the biggest movie ever across the region in admissions. It will become the highest grossing release of all time Tuesday. Thor, Cap, Iron Man and company have bragging rights to starring in the biggest release in industry history in Brazil, Mexico, Central America, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Europe saw a 56% drop for a $339M regional cume. It’s the top superhero movie ever and the top grossing in the genre in Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, UAE, Ukraine and the UK.
The IMAX total is now $140M.
Rounding out the Top 5 markets below China are Korea ($91.5M), the UK ($90.3M), Brazil ($62.8M) and Mexico ($58.8M).
A QUIET PLACE
Paramount’s winner grossed another $4.7M in 36 markets this weekend. That includes the sophomore session in China where John Krasinski’s scarer has now cumed $27.9M. The total international box office is $131.7M. Earlier this week, the movie crossed the $300M global mark as it topped Get Out domestically after its 8th frame. Still to come on the horror thriller are France on June 20, a nice counterprogram date versus the World Cup, and Japan on September 28.
MISC UPDATED CUMES/NOTABLES
Truth Or Dare (UNI): $3.3M intl weekend (45 markets); $41.6M intl cume
Peter Rabbit (SNY): $2.4M intl weekend (48 markets); $225.8M intl cume
Sherlock Gnomes (PAR): $1.7M intl weekend (17 markets); $34.3M intl cume
Rampage (WB): $1.6M intl weekend (58 markets); $318.8M intl cume
Blockers (UNI): $1.5M intl weekend (29 markets); $29.8M intl cume
Breaking In (UNI): $200K intl weekend (6 markets); $2M intl cume
Phantom Thread (UNI): $100K intl weekend (6 markets); $25.3M intl cume