Solo: A Star Wars Story: Artistically and Commercially Mediocre

Solo: A Star Wars Story is struggling to make the kind of opening weekend impact now expected from a Star Wars film, with an estimated $114 million from 4,381 domestic sites over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. Earlier estimates ha predicted a $130-$150 million range.

Critics have been mixed about the film, which holds a current 70% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.  It’s a low grade compared with those of The Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2.

We knew that the movie was neither great nor exciting as soon as we saw it at its international premiere in Cannes Film Fest.  The applause was mild and the standing ovation lasted less than 3 minutes, in shar contrast to the world premiere of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, which I saw the night before!

One of the problems is that Alden Ehrenreich, who plays Solo, is a likable actor, but lacks the charm, charisma and gravity of a genuine movie star,  Not many young actors in present-day Hollywood possess the combination of qualities that the young Harrison Ford had in abundance.  Right now Ehrenreich is a player–lead player to be sure–in the film’s ensemble, and it remains to be seen whether he would develop into a bona fide star.

Solo earned about $35.6 million through Friday, including $14.1 million from Thursday grosses, the highest Thursday for a Memorial Day opener.

A $114 million opening would have Solo trailing the three-day debut of the last anthology film, Rogue One, by $41 million, not to mention Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s $220 million opening.

The Disney-Lucasfilm venture is the 10th Star Wars movie and 4th from Disney in less than four years.

If the holiday estimates hold for Solo, they raise questions about franchise fatigue and Disney’s strategy of opening the tentpole just 5e months after The Last Jedi December 16.

“Solo” follows Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, who befriends his future co-pilot Chewbacca and meets the gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Joonas Suotamo, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge round out the cast.

Ron Howard directed from a script by Jonathan and Lawrence Kadan. Howard replaced the directing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who left the project in June, due to “creative differences.”