There’s nothing like a little “Star Wars” to help turn low numbers around: “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is expected to break the record for the biggest four-day opening on Memorial Day weekend with at least $140 million.
And with the staying power of “Deadpool 2” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” the combined weekend box office could climb into the top five Memorial Day weekends of all time.
That’s a huge leap from last year, when the box office suffered the worst Memorial Day weekend results since the turn of the century, as “Baywatch” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” failed to draw many moviegoers.
Despite its record-breaking weekend potential, a $140 million opening for “Solo” would be the lowest opening total for a Disney-released “Star Wars” film — and will still be enough to break the Memorial Day Weekend record set by “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which made $139.8 million on the holiday in 2007.
One independent tracker is particularly bullish on the film, projecting a $180 million start, though Disney is keeping their projections in line with the other trackers at $130-150 million.
As any “Star Wars” fan knows, “Solo” has seen a journey to release that was rougher than the Kessel Run. “Lego Movie” directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller exited the project midway through production after strong creative differences with Lucasfilm and the film’s screenwriters, Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan.
While Lord and Miller retained credits as executive producers, Ron Howard was brought in to complete the project, overseeing reshoots that ballooned the film’s production budget to a reported $250 million.
But early word of mouth from the film’s Hollywood premiere and gala screening at the Cannes Film Festival has been positive, and critics reviews have given the film a 71 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
While reviews have noted that the film doesn’t push any envelopes like the last Star Wars film, “The Last Jedi,” the general consensus seems to be that it is a fun blockbuster from start to finish. For family audiences who left theaters sad after the shock ending of “Avengers: Infinity War” and who have kids too young to see “Deadpool 2,” “Solo” might just be what they are looking for.
And those two Marvel films will also have their say at movie theaters this weekend, combining with “Solo” to make this Memorial Day weekend one of the biggest ever.
Prior to the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its early May release dates, Memorial Day Weekend was considered the start of the summer movie season. But in recent years, poorly received releases have cause the four-day weekend’s overall revenue to drop.
According to data from comScore, Memorial Day weekend revenue peaked in 2013 with a record $314 million, fueled by the $117 million start of “Fast & Furious 6” and four other films that each grossed between $25-50 million, including “The Hangover Part III.”
But since then, no Memorial Day weekend has broken into the top five in box office history, and last year’s $181.4 million was the worst since 1999 and down 47 percent from the 2013 record. 2018 should stop that slide. Between the opening for “Solo,” the estimated $60 million for “Deadpool 2” in its second weekend, the $13-15 million for “Avengers: Infinity War” — which should hit $2 billion worldwide this weekend — and returns for other films like “Book Club,” four-day revenue should reach at least $240 million and crack that top five list.
Overseas, “Solo” opens Wednesday in nine European countries, including France and Italy, as well as Indonesia and the Philippines. All other major markets will receive the film on Thursday and Friday except Japan, which has a June 29 release.
“Solo” follows future Rebel Alliance leader Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) in his first mission as a smuggler after being separated from his childhood sweetheart Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). His search for her leads him to a smuggling ring led by a grizzled bandit named Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). Along the way, Han meets his lifelong buddy Chewbacca (Joomas Suotamo) and “Empire Strikes Back” frenemy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) as they embark on a mission with Tobias to pay back a bloodthirsty crime lord (Paul Bettany).