‘Solo’ Box Office Disappointment Emboldens ‘Star Wars’ Trolls

Han Solo origin film wins second weekend with just $30 million, sending far-right critics rejoicing.

June 3, 2018 1:59 pm

Forget Sith warriors and Rancor beasts, there is no fouler adversary to the Jedi order than Internet trolls.

There has been a squadron of self-proclaimed Star Wars fans celebrating on social media over the less than expected box office returns of Solo: A Star Wars Story. But the numbers, as disappointing as they are for Disney, don’t seem to suggest that an attempted boycott from the far right over the increased diversity in the franchise is to blame.

“They are in a bubble of their own contempt,” Entertainment Weekly movie writer Anthony Breznican told RealClearLife. “There isn’t a single mainstream movie-goer who woke up on May 25th and said to themselves, ‘Gee, maybe these guys have a point.’”

Solo finished in the top spot for a second weekend in a row—this time with $29.3 million, for a ten-day North American total of $148.9 million. That box office championship hardly comes with a heavyweight belt, however, given the 65 percent drop from its $101 million opening weekend. Disney’s Han Solo origin tale, starring Alden Ehrenreich in the role Harrison Ford made famous, also earned $30.3 million internationally for a grand global total of $264.2 million.

The famous fictional smuggler wouldn’t like to hear it, but the odds of Solo crossing the $1 billion mark that the last three Star Wars films passed seems a lot higher than 3,720 to 1. Even the biggest Lucasfilm apologist has to concede those numbers are a disappointment given the expectations that come with the biggest movie franchise in the known universe.

“For anyone to be claiming ‘we hurt this movie by staying away,’ I don’t think that had any impact,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior box office analyst for ComScore. “When you break it all down, this seems to be a combination of the movie opening at a very competitive time, so close to Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, and too soon after the last Star Wars movie.”

Finishing in second place this weekend was Fox’s Deadpool 2 with $23.3 million to pad its 17-day North American total to $254.7 million.  It’s embarrassing to some Star Wars fans that an R-rated flick about a C-list superhero is going to end up making more money than Solo.

But not to all Star Wars fans.

And there lies the ugly drama behind the sci-fi actioner: The vocal dissatisfaction with the direction of the franchise from a subset within its own fandom. Some carping has centered on the creative direction of the franchise (Luke as a Force ghost?) or Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy’s aggressive release strategy, which may have led to brand fatigue (Solo hit theaters just five months after The Last Jedi). But when a film crosses the $100 million barrier in its opening weekend, it suggests that the hardcore fans did indeed flock to theaters to see the film. The 65 percent drop-off in the following weekend suggests they just didn’t come back for multiple viewings.

Still, there is a fringe of Internet grumblers, predominantly male and white, who take issue with the last few Star Wars installments as lacking the white, male leads that were once common—a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away. Not content to just post misogynist and racist musings on the non-white characters in the saga such as Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega), they vowed to show their displeasure by not buying tickets to future Star Wars movies.

“The pro-Disney crowd is terrified of us speaking out against Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy….the Solo boycott is working,” tweeted one such troll.

That assertion, however, is nebulous. Those same detractors vowed a similar disruption for Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December—and the film made $1.32 billion worldwide despite those threats.

There was a similar promise from the alt-right to stay away in droves from Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War in retaliation for the heavily African-American cast of the studio’s previous movie, Black Panther. But with the Avengers sequel having earned $642.9 million domestically and nearly $1.97 billion worldwide to date, a few racist absentees were not noticed.

“They have tried this so many times before, it’s clear they have had no impact on the box office whatsoever,” said Breznican of the alt-right boycott attempt.

“They can do their victory lap right off the end of a pier.”

It’s just easier for trolls to take credit this time around since those empty seats at Solo showings were more noticeable this weekend.

“Unfortunately, the box office reporting can have an impact on moviegoing,” said Dergarabedian. “When Infinity War has the biggest opening of all time, people get all excited. But when this time around (for Solo), it didn’t have that same feeling of being a pop culture event.”

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