This month the second non-trilogy Star Wars film came out, Solo: A Star Wars Story. The first, Rogue One, released in December 2016.
Box Office Mojo posted a comparison of their domestic haul after 17 days. It shows a rather astonishing gap of $248,882,233.
Rotten Tomatoes gives Rogue One an 85% fresh rating, which is pretty good. Solo gets a more middling 71%. Still, the difference in popularity is drastic. Some reasons offered for the reception of Solo:
- too soon after the previous Star Wars movie. The Last Jedi came out just six months ago.
- difficulties with production somehow affected perception/demand (the original directors were fired and Ron Howard was brought in, reshooting up to 70% of the scenes while allegedly sticking to the script)
- everyone knows Solo dies at the hands of his jerk son, Kylo Ren, so watching how he starts out is kind of depressing
- Harrison Ford is too closely associated with the role
- enough with the nostalgic trips into the past
There’s probably some validity to all of these reasons, but my hunch is that most people just don’t care much about a Han Solo origin story, even one that’s told well. It would be like a Boba Fett movie. The character came out with this built-in reputation as a cool bounty hunter, but did very little and got eaten by a giant worm. Why would you want to watch a story about him? Would the opening crawl start with “Before he was devoured by the Sarlac, Boba Fett was a renowned bounty hunter…”
Anyway, I was just surprised by the huge disparity between the two movies. While Rogue One was also set in the past, it didn’t center around well-known characters, it was a new story and one that actually helps set up the very first Star Wars film. And was incredibly popular–especially considering that (spoiler!) it kills off all of its major characters by the time the credits roll.