Until recently, the deadliest sin a Star Wars fan could commit was saying they had a soft spot for Jar Jar Binks. But according to more recent schools of thought, there’s a special place in the Sarlacc pit for anyone that endorses Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Well, as a huge Star Wars fan, I’m proud to admit that I saw Solo in the cinema in May and absolutely loved it. And luckily for me (and you), it’s just been released digitally, on Blu-Ray and DVD. Like the Shawshank Redemption, I’m hopeful this one finds an audience post-cinema, because it really is a gem.
In spite of this, Solo performed horrifically at the global Box Office, taking just $392 million worldwide so far. That may sound fine to you and me, but analysts stated it would need $500 million to break even from its $275 million production budget, which would still have been a disappointment given the figures achieved by the likes of Black Panther, Infinity War and The Last Jedi.
While Solo’s terrible Box Office performance brought joy to many Star Wars ‘fans’ who chose to boycott the movie, it personally makes me sad, not because Disney saw poor returns or because the Obi-Wan solo movie has been put on hold, but because the controversy that surrounded the production overshadowed a truly brilliant film that deserved to find an audience.
Of course, if we do end up with just one big screen outing with a young Han Solo, then Disney only has itself to blame. Boycotters aside, Disney massively underestimated its wider audience, foolishly thinking it could treat Star Wars like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, churning out two movies a year and expecting people to come in droves.
But not all movies have that kind of demand.
For me, having a Star Wars film once a year would have been something my 10-year-old self would have chewed his own arm off for, so this formula suits my greedy sensibilities, particularly because I’ve never really grown up. But for the typical cinema-goer, a twice yearly visit to the movies for the geekiest of sci-fi indulgences is not something they have an appetite for.
Disney has learned its lesson and has already condensed its release schedule to a more palatable format, an act of solidarity that should calm the waters between fans and filmmakers. It should also help ensure that future releases are staggered enough so that people don’t get bored, and that the quality of the films themselves is maintained. This, in some way, could be viewed as a very positive outcome.
However, if the negative backlash continues even after this move from Disney, boycotters should think about the long-term ramifications. We’ve spent the best part of a decade waiting for more Star Wars stories on the big screen, but a continuous negative outpouring could lead to its collapse.
Disney therefore isn’t the only one that needs to reassess its strategy, the boycotters need to take a long hard look at themselves too. It’s okay to have an opinion, but let’s face it, if you’re a Star Wars fan, getting a feature film every year is the stuff dreams are made of and something I didn’t think possible a few short years ago. Ultimately, as fans, we have to accept that certain decisions filmmakers and studios make aren’t going to be to our liking. Spewing out negativity isn’t going to do anything but damage the potential for new and exciting Star Wars stories, and potentially ruin things for everyone.
As an optimist, I hope Solo becomes a lesson, rather than a pattern. I also hope and implore people that haven’t seen Solo yet to buy it, rent it, download it (legally) – however you consume movies at home, because it is a fantastic, rip-roaringly entertaining ride that will have you grinning uncontrollably like someone out of a toothpaste commercial.
If you do, and it does start to find an audience, we may just get the follow up that Ron Howard’s excellent movie deserves.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Download now.