Solo box office may hand Disney first Star Wars loss

Solo: A Star Wars Story, which cost an estimated US$250 million to make, could lose more than US$50 million
Solo: A Star Wars Story, which cost an estimated US$250 million to make, could lose more than US$50 million PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) - Box-office receipts for Solo: A Star Wars Story sank 65 per cent from the film's debut weekend in the U.S., setting it on course to be the first Star Wars movie to lose money.

Walt Disney Co.'s Han Solo origin story collected weekend sales of US$29.4 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, ComScore Inc. said in an email Monday (June 4). That was below the US$30 million projected by the research site Box Office Mojo and a steeper decline than other big Memorial Day releases historically.

The film, which cost an estimated US$250 million to make, could lose more than US$50 million, Barton Crockett, an analyst with B. Riley FBR Inc., said in a research note Sunday (June 3). In his estimates Crockett accounted for international ticket sales, home video and TV revenue, as well as merchandising revenue and the millions spent on marketing.

"This marks a tough return to movie reality for a Disney that had in recent years enjoyed a can't-miss mystique," Crockett wrote.

Crockett projected total worldwide ticket sales for the movie in the mid-US$400 million range, while other recent "Star Wars" films have taken in $1 billion or more. So far, even adjusting for inflation domestically, "Solo" is the worst performing of all the "Star Wars" movies going back to 1977, according to Box Office Mojo.

A write-off would be mark severe change of fortune for Disney. Wade Holden, analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, estimated that the previous three Star Wars films generated an average net profit of US$871 million. Doug Creutz, analyst at Cowen & Co., blamed poor marketing by Disney and fans' disquiet over storylines in the last episode, The Last Jedi. Disney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday evening.

Three new movies - Adrift, Upgrade, and Action Point- placed third, sixth and ninth, respectively. STX Entertainment's Adrift, made for US$35 million, collected US$11.6 million against a forecast of US$13 million. Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin play a couple who sail from Tahiti to San Diego and hit a catastrophic hurricane. The survival tale is based on a true story and scored 67 per cent positive reviews, according to aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.


R-rated Upgrade, which scored almost universal positive reviews, collected US$4.67 million, beating a forecast of $2.8 million by Box Office Pro. The violent tale via Blumhouse Productions' label BH Tilt, is about a billionaire inventor paralysed in a mugging, who tries an experimental cure to fix his body.

Daredevil Johnny Knoxville returns in the critically panned Action Point, via Paramount Pictures, which earned US$2.39 million - or about half the predicted US$5.5 million. In the US$19 million production, the Jackass star is the owner of an out-of-control amusement park where the rides are designed with minimum safety and maximum pain.