Summer movie season is one of the most exciting aspects of summer besides the weather and the whole no school thing. The summer isn’t spent rolling out award contenders, no, the summer is saved for blockbusters. Think back to your childhood and all the massive movies that were released during summer vacations. Independence Day, Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, and Terminator 2 are some of the biggest summer movies of all time. Over time though the big summer movie has become a bit over saturated as instead of one major blockbuster we’ve been given anywhere to five to ten massive movies looking to hit it big during the summer months. Instead of being special the summer blockbuster has become a trend. It seems like every week there’s a new must-see movie being released and one can’t help but believe that movie fatigue is partly responsible for the lower box office numbers over the last few years.
Let’s make no mistake about it, it is not cheap going to the movies. Tickets cost anywhere between fourteen to eighteen dollars nowadays. That’s just to walk in the door. Add in the price for popcorn, soda, and treats and suddenly you’re looking at a forty dollar night. Maybe more. God forbid if you choose to take a date. Going to the movies isn’t what it used to be. Yes, things like Movie Pass have helped cushion the blow but not every theater accepts Movie Pass and not everyone uses it. It’s a solution but it’s not the solution. At some point, movie prices are going to have to go down or movies are going to have to be released through streaming services. With budgets rising and price gauging a real thing, for 3D films especially, pretty soon people are going to get fed up with going to the movies and box office numbers will continue to dwindle.
Summer movie season kicked off in a big way this year though before all that fatigue and money spending could kick in, with the release of Avengers Infinity War, a film that was originally slated to be released the first weekend of May much like the majority of Marvel summer movies. The thing about May though… it was kind of a full month of movies. Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and Solo: A Star Wars Story were all slotted to be released within a week or two of each other. All three major films with huge fan bases with not that much time apart between releases. I think originally there was supposed to be a two-week gap between Infinity War and Deadpool 2. Just two weeks. That is until Disney decided to push Infinity War up a week. Suddenly the summer’s biggest movie had three weeks of freedom at the box office and it cleaned up.
By the time Deadpool 2 came out just about everyone who wanted to see the third Avengers film had seen it, possibly more than once, and they were ready for the change of pace. Deadpool 2 served as solid pallet cleanser to the emotionally epic Infinity War and fans who were ready for a change came out to see the Merc with a Mouth. Deadpool 2 performed well and everyone was happy. Yet there was still a week to go in May, and that’s when Disney decided to release Solo.
Here’s the thing about Solo, if you recall we didn’t see any footage of the film until the Super Bowl where we got a teaser trailer promising a larger trailer the following day. Within two days we got our first and only looks of the movie outside of the TV spots that have been all over the NBA playoffs. With three months until it’s release, rumors of a lead actor who needed on set lessons, and a switch in director it almost seemed like Solo was doomed from the start.
I’ll be honest, I was guilty of questioning the film here on this very site. At no point was I ever sold on Alden Ehrenreich as being Solo. I just didn’t trust him. There is a certain swagger to Han Solo that I just wasn’t seeing. I’m a die-hard Star Wars fan so I knew I was seeing Solo opening weekend but my excitement levels weren’t exactly there. My initial thought process was I was going to go because I was a good Star Wars fan and that’s what was expected of me.
After the film’s premier, I felt a genuine shift in my excitement levels. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing and it seemed that everyone who had seen Solo left with the same impression. It was fun. No one was coming out saying that it was the greatest Star Wars movie of all time but they were saying how much the film reminded them that this franchise is fun. Make no mistake about it, The Last Jedi polarized the fan base. I have yet to meet someone who thought it was just good. Either you loved it for being something daring and new or you hated it for ruining your childhood. There was no happy medium. Those early responses had me excited for Solo. I just wanted to sit in a theater and love being a Star Wars fan again.
When Solo dropped last week, I went on Saturday night but not just because I’m a good little Star Wars fan, but because I genuinely wanted to see the film. I still wasn’t one hundred percent on Alden Ehrenreich but I was willing to give the kid a chance, and if he didn’t work out at least I had Chewie and Donald Glover to fall back on. The Rotten Tomatoes score came in at the low seventies and there was a lot of hype about how Solo was the lowest rated Star Wars film since the prequels, but again I didn’t let that bother me. And you know what? I’m happy I didn’t because Geeklings, Solo is a blast. An absolute blast. I loved every bit of it. From the moment that movie started to the moment it ended I had this huge grin on my face that was filled with memories of why I fell in love with this universe in the first place. There’s nothing here that reinvents the wheel but when it was over I wanted everything Star Wars. I had grand plans in my head of ways that this story and characters could carry out across these stand-alone films. The Boba Fett movie lends itself to continuing this story in a huge way, and I was genuinely excited about the future. It may not be advancing the main saga but I was wholeheartedly invested in Solo.
Then news started to break how Solo was a failure. How maybe fans were suffering from Star Wars fatigue. That Solo got it all wrong. All the negative reviews impacted the number of people who came out to see it. That Solo was a failure, and that’s when I started to grow irritated. In no means is Solo a failure, the only failure here is Disney not recognizing the summer movie schedule.
Solo was put in a position where it was almost set up to fail, and I think Disney relied on the fact that it was a Star Wars movie and that alone would bring people to theaters. Not once did Disney put in their equation the fact that people were tired. They had been going to the movies, almost weekly, since the last week of April. There was a heavy emotional toll that came at the end of Infinity War and if you don’t believe me then check out the millions of memes that are out there helping people try and cope with the events of the movie. The release of that all that emotional burden came last week with the Deadpool 2 where audiences kind of laughed everything off. Deadpool takes the superhero film and lowers the stakes quite a bit while bringing the laughs. Where does Solo fall into this equation? Fans had the heavy feels and the release of those emotions, Solo suddenly becomes the extra dessert on top of the dessert you just ordered. Yeah, it’s there and you’ll probably eat some of it but it would have been much better if you had it the next time you went out.
This isn’t a Star Wars fatigue thing. This isn’t a Solo was bad so people didn’t want to see it thing. This was a people were tired of going to the movies thing. That’s all. Think of all the money that was spent watching movies in the month of May alone. It’s mind-blowing! Throwing another “major” movie at the end of May was pretty reckless and self-serving from a studio that had made over a billion dollars in eleven days off of Infinity War. There is no reason why Solo couldn’t have been released in August, a month where summer blockbuster season notoriously drops off. Guardians of the Galaxy cleaned up in August and part of that is because it’s a tremendous movie (in my top five all time) but it helps when there’s not a lot of competition. When other months are over saturated with films.
Since the release of The Last Jedi, it seems that everyone wants to question everything Star Wars related. Like I said, that movie polarized the fan base and almost made it popular to hate Star Wars. Part of that is snarky internet trolls and part of that is a fan base that didn’t like what happened to their childhood hero. Who weren’t happy with the answers they were given. Now Solo gets released and it doesn’t have the same critical love as the last three movies in the franchise so it must be bad. It didn’t draw the numbers that it expected so it must be bad. I can tell you without a doubt that Solo is a blast and if you loved the original trilogy you’re going to love this. Case and point.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the movie actually rise in the coming weeks as word of mouth starts to take hold. I also expect it to bounce back once it’s released digitally and on DVD (if people still even buy those). Solo isn’t the failure here. Disney’s treatment of it is. Solo deserved better than the spot it was given and it deserved more support from its distributor. The fact that it’s a Star Wars movie isn’t enough when folks have been spending an entire month in a theater. Wallets can only be stretched so thin. Only so many Saturday nights can be spent in the movie theater. Disney dropped the ball on this one and now we have to spend the next year and half reading articles and listening to podcasts that question whether or not Star Wars has lost its touch. The answer to that question is no. The next Star Wars film comes out in a year and a half and I almost guarantee that people will be bellowing that the films are too far apart. Don’t listen to them though. Star Wars is more than fine. Just hope that the Mouse figures out how to distribute the future films in the franchise better so genuinely fun and exciting installments like Solo get the fair shake they deserve.
Oh! The kid makes for a pretty solid Han by the way.