Han Solo vs Ant-Man

There are those in the Star Wars fan community who claim that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has “ruined” Star Wars, and some of those voices have been calling for her to be replaced by Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige.  They seem to think that (among other things) Feige can do no wrong, and Kennedy has pushed a feminist agenda that has killed “their” Star Wars.  They further believe that Kennedy (one of the most successful film producers in the history of Hollywood) is inept and that she needs to retire or be fired.  Additionally, many of them take credit for Solo: A Star Wars Story under-performing at the box office, claiming their boycott of the film killed it.

Well, let’s compare apples to apples then, shall we?  Solo: A Star Wars Story recently left theaters (in fact, it’s still playing in a 2nd run theater in my town), while Marvel’s latest film, Ant-man and the Wasp, is currently in theaters.  If you consider the idea that everything Feige touches turns to gold, then it should be a no-brainer that Ant-man and the Wasp would out-perform Solo: A Star Wars Story at the box office.  Here’s the plot twist: It’s not.

Comparing domestic box office numbers, our favorite scoundrel has outgunned Ant-Man.  Comparing opening weekends, Solo had a weekend take of $103,016,812 (not including Memorial Day), where Ant-Man had an opening weekend of $75,812,205. That’s  $27 million in Solo‘s favor.

Both films suffered significant drops their second weekend, with Solo dropping 65.2% to $29,396,882, and Ant-Man dropping 61.6% to bring home $29,097,859…  about $299,000 again in favor of the smuggler from a galaxy far, far away.

To acknowledge international box office, after 3 weekends Solo had a combined box office total of about $313 million, while Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s total for the same length of time is about $354  million.  Ant-Man is doing better internationally, but not astoundingly so (although it hasn’t opened in China yet).

At the time of this writing, Ant-Man has been in theaters for 20 days, with a total domestic box-office take of $172,864,858.  20 days into its run, Solo had pulled in $182,386,562 domestically. That’s  $9,820,727 in Solo‘s favor.  That’s not huge, but it’s enough to illustrate that perhaps Solo’s “underperformance” has nothing to do with a phantom boycott, Kathleen Kennedy’s ineptitude, or a “feminist agenda” and more to do with the fact that there are just too many “big summer blockbuster” movies for the public to deal with.  At an average ticket price of $9.16 (up 4% from last year), perhaps American movie-goers’ wallets are getting tired.  Solo premiered just 5 months after The Last Jedi, while Ant-Man and the Wasp was released a mere 10 weeks after Avengers: Infinity War (in fact, Infinity War was still in 506 domestic theaters that week). Throw in the fact that at the same time, Deadpool 2Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Incredibles 2, Hotel Transylvania 3, and Ocean’s 8 were either in theaters or releasing soon, and you have box office overload.

I’m not saying there haven’t been missteps at Lucasfilm.  The day they announced Lord and Miller as the directors for Solo, I felt it was a mistake (my brother and I even had a conversation about it).  I felt that a team of directors who are known for making a tongue-in-cheek reboot of a serious TV series (while seemingly not taking the source material seriously) was the wrong choice for a film about Han Solo’s origin.  Turns out I was right.  Hiring Lord and Miller was Kennedy’s mistake here, and, unfortunately, it took so long for Lucasfilm/Disney to figure it out that they ended up reshooting a huge portion of the film, which sent the budget into orbit.  That’s going to end up causing Solo to lose about $50 million.  The good news here is that Kennedy and company made the right decision and fired Lord and Miller – knowing full-well that it would push Solo way over-budget – in order to deliver the best film they could… instead of just pushing forward and finishing it.  While it all sounds like a huge financial mistake, the four Star Wars films produced thus-far under Kennedy have made a combined worldwide total of $4,845,186,702.  That’s an average of $1.2 billion per film.

Production budgets for The Last Jedi and Solo aren’t available on boxofficemojo.com, but estimating a production budget of $250 million for The Last Jedi and $250-300 million for Solo (That’s a wild guess, based on the rumored reshoots), the combined total production budget for the four films is around $900 million – $1 billion (TFA $245m, Rogue One $200m).  Combined merchandising and licensing fees, that puts Disney very close (about $350 million)  to recovering the $4.2 billion they invested by purchasing Lucasfilm (not to mention toy and collectible sales, home video releases, TV rights, etc).  Don’t forget: Disney didn’t just buy Star Wars, they bought Lucasfilm lock, stock, and barrel.  That means not just Star Wars, but all other LFL properties including Indiana Jones as well as the other LFL companies such as Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound – both of which do work outside of Lucasfilm properties – which generates revenue.

Obviously, the trend of Star Wars movies losing money at the box office can’t continue, but an average of $1.2 billion per movie isn’t something that’s going to get ANYONE fired.


2 thoughts on “Han Solo vs Ant-Man”

  1. While I thoroughly disliked TLJ (I felt there were some really pointless subplots, too much forced humor, and several other missteps), I LOVED Solo. No studio is going to get every movie 100% right 100% of the time (I was part of the minority that didn’t like Black Panther – I thought it was a rehash of Iron Man 2). I also don’t blame KK for my dislike of TLJ. Rian Johnson is the one I look to for the issues I had with it (I also think it was really hasty to green-light an entire trilogy for him before seeing how TLJ performed). He’s on record saying he wanted to make a movie that 1/2 the audience hated. I have some pretty strong opinions on that as he’s actively seeking to alienate fans from the franchise. I think it’s a stupid way to go about making movies. I also took issue with so many saying TLJ was great because it subverted expectations. Subverting expectations is fine if you do it with a good script and a good story. As it is, Rey wasn’t developed as a character. RJ had an opportunity to explain why she was so competent in the Force, but chose to ignore it, thus cementing her Mary Sue status. I fought against that label for Rey after TFA, because we didn’t know enough of her background and there could have been something there to explain it. According to RJ, there isn’t any explanation. Finn and Rose’s exploits on Canto Bight were a waste of time considering the time sensitive mission they were on. Rose saving Finn and her declaration of love for him came out of nowhere. Phasma was completely wasted. BB-8 somehow reached god status and can do anything. Poe’s character was completely changed from TFA where he was a competent soldier/leader, to an immature rebel. The dog fight on Krayt was really pointless when you realize that the ski speeders had no weapons, so it’s not like they offered any real resistance to the FO walkers and TIEs. Rose stopping Finn from destroying the bettering ram saved Finn, but completely defeated the purpose for flying out there in the first place. Luke being willing to kill his nephew because he sensed darkness is at complete odds with the Luke who was willing to do anything to save Vader, who he sensed had a tiny sliver of goodness left in him. I know you and I disagree on this and that’s fine. I guess I just wanted to make it known that not everyone who dislikes TLJ has issues with whatever “feminist agenda” others are constantly yammering on about.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Rob. I know that not EVERYONE who has had issue with the new films has blamed Kathleen Kennedy, but MANY of the most-vocal individuals have.

    You’re right, we completely disagree about TLJ. I really don’t like to debate it, because when it comes down to it I feel like art is subjective, but…I disagree with you on every point you’ve made.

    OK, first and foremost. About this “Rian Johnson wanted to make a movie that half the fans hated” thing. The ONLY quote I can find from him about this is from 2003 while promoting his film “Brick”. If you have a reference for a quote where he’s talking SPECIFICALLY about STAR WARS, please send it over to me, because I haven’t been able to find one. Here’s video of him in 2003.

    So first, that clip is 15 years old. He was a much younger (29 or 30), ambitious film-maker. Some of our favorite directors had (I’m sure) similar attitudes. It seems to be the stuff that film school graduates are made of. So, I find it hard to find a 15-year-old clip relevant or that it means he’s “actively seeking to alienate fans from the franchise”.

    Additionally, what would you rather have? Someone who makes a movie that challenges the audience and makes us re-think what we think we know, or something that panders to the fans and is all fan service? Personally, I’d prefer something that takes us in a new direction. As for it being a stupid way to go about making movies, well think about that OUTSIDE of an established franchise (in the actual context of the clip linked above), to me it seems like that’s what the Academy loves. Films that are controversial. So it doesn’t surprise me that someone who had graduated from film school only 7 years earlier, and was pitching his first major film, would say something like that. I’m not making an excuse, but looking at the comment in the context it was made.

    Why do we need an explanation why Rey is so competent in the Force? We didn’t need an explanation (in ANH) why Luke was… except his father was a Jedi. So what? If that’s what it takes, and abilities in the Force are genetic, then WHY ON EARTH would the Jedi be forbidden to marry? Wouldn’t it make sense to have Jedi marry Jedi, have lots of little baby Jedi, so the order could grow and be all-powerful? No, we had no REAL explanation why Luke (after one short lesson with a training ball) was able to use the Force to hit a 2-meter wide target and destroy the Death Star, or why (in ESB) he was able to Force-pull a lightsaber to free himself from the Wampa’s trap – did Obi-Wan train him from beyond, in-between movies? OK, so Rey could fight. She’d grown up defending herself on Jaaku. We see that. I’m sure thugs trying to steal stuff from her was a normal occurance. If you watch her lightsaber moves in TFA, she’s using it more like a staff – what she’s used to. Let’s face it, what options did RJ really have for an “explanation” anyway? Let’s see:
    -Make her Luke’s daughter
    People would have screamed that it was a rehash.
    -Bring Midichlorians back into the game?
    Please, no. Many fans would have hated that.
    -Somehow make her Obi-Wan’s offspring?
    That’s clunky.
    -Make her the daughter of a Jedi that – somehow – survived Order 66, survived the Jedi purge, lived through the Galactic Civil War (but didn’t help out any), and THEN had a child… at age 60 or so? (if they were 25 at the time of Order 66, that would make them 44 for the battle of Yavin. 47-48 for the battle of Endor. Rey’s 19 in TFA, so she was born 11 years or so after ROTJ, so that would make our Jedi parent 59 or so). Even if it was a 15-year-old Padawan and not a fully-trained Jedi, that would still make them in their late 40s when Rey was born. It would work, but not really a great idea.

    Additionally – and this requires some speculation – what if Kylo lied? What if her parents weren’t “drunken nobodies”? You’re judging the final story on 2 acts of the 3 act play. Let’s wait and read the end of the book first, then see what happens.

    The Canto Bight sequence serves a story-telling purpose: If you take a look at Finn at the end of TFA and beginning of TLJ, he has ONE motivation: Rey. When Kylo takes Rey, he runs after the shuttle, screaming her name. He LIES to the Resistance (and Han and Leia specifically) to get them to take him to Starkiller Base, so he can rescue her. His first word when he wake up from his coma is “Rey”. His only question for Poe is “Where’s Rey”. He’s worried how Rey is going to find them. When he meets Rose, he’s a deserter. He’s leaving to go find Rey and “save her”. Here’s the thing: Rey isn’t going to need Finn. At the same time, Finn doesn’t know where he belongs, or really what (if any) side he should be on. He’s not committed to the Resistance. It’s on Canto Bight that he sees another side to war. Children in slaverly, war profiteers, etc. It’s on Canto Bight that he realizes he needs to do something. He returns to the Resistance committed, willing to sacrifice his life because he “won’t let them win”.

    Many have complained “oh sure, they’ll free the space horsies but not the kids”. OK, here’s the deal. Freeing the “space horsies” caused a serious diversion/distraction so they could escape. Freeing a few slave kids wouldn’t have done that. It wasn’t their mission. I do have to say that cinematically, I could have done without the “horseback chase”, as it felt a little too “Harry Potter” or something for me. But it’s like 4 minutes of the movie. I could do without a 10-minute long pod race, too.

    As an R2 fan, I don’t like BB-8 much, so I won’t argue with you on that point except to say that as an R2 builder, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to fit all of the gadgets we’ve seen across the saga (and Clone Wars) into that 18″ diameter body. You’ll find out… 😉

    Phasma wasn’t any more wasted than Boba Fett.

    I don’t think Poe’s character changed that much. He’s cocky from the moment we meet him.
    “Who talks first, do you talk first, do I talk first?”
    “Can you fly a TIE Fighter?” “I can fly anything.”
    He’s Maverick from Top Gun. He’s cocky, thinks he knows everything, and in the heat of battle, makes a REALLY bad decision instead of following orders. The orders of his general and his mentor. Maverick only caused the death of Goose, Poe caused the loss of their entire bomber fleet. BTW, Poe is the reason that Holdo’s plan fails. HE LEAKS IT. He tells Finn and Rose what the plan is (to sneak the escape pods down to Krayt), and DJ overhears it, then sells out the entire Resistance (including Finn and Rose) to the First Order. That’s important, because this entire movie is about failure. EVERYONE fails. Yoda literally tells us what lesson we’re suppose to learn from this movie.

    The battle on Krayt (with ski speeders with no weapons) really wasn’t any more pointless that the battle on Hoth with snowspeeders against AT-ATs with “armor that’s too strong for blasters”.

    I’ll be honest, I thought they were going to kill Finn off in that scene. Sitting there watching on opening night, I thought “this will be a good arc for the character. He went to Canto Bight, found his motivation, made his decision, and will now sacrifice himself for the cause”. I was disappointed that didn’t happen (except I like Finn), but I get the point: Save what you love, not kill what you hate. It’s the opposite message from what Kylo’s preaching.

    OK, now we’ve come to Luke. Probably the most divisive thing about TLJ. You say that Luke being willing to kill Ben Solo is out of character, and I say it’s completely IN character. Think about this: Luke has ALWAYS struggled with his emotions. He IS the son of Anakin Skywalker after all. In ANH, Obi-Wan tries to stop him from rushing back to the Lars homestead because “it’s too dangerous”. But Luke gives in to his FEAR and love for his aunt and uncle and rushes home. Later, when they discover that Leia is aboard the Death Star, Luke immediately decides to go rescue her – against Obi-Wan’s orders “Stay here and watch over the droids. They must be delivered safely…” Even Han says “the old man wants us to wait right here”. Again, Luke gives in to his emotions.

    In ESB, Luke rushes out of the Wampa cave in FEAR. Granted, he was probably in shock, and who knows if there were more of them. But, he might have been safer to stay there for the night and wait out the storm.
    When he has the vision of Han and Leia in pain, he rushes to help them – out of FEAR for his friends. Both Yoda and Obi-Wan tell him not to.
    But it’s in ROTJ that we REALLY see Luke give in to his fear. You’re right, he was willing to do anything to save his father… but none of it worked. Ultimately, Luke hid from Vader in fear. Then, Vader threatened Leia. Threatened to harm her or turn her to the Dark Side. This pushed Luke over the edge, and he struck out in FEAR and ANGER. That’s how he defeated Vader. That shot, when he has Vader down on the ground, and he’s repeatedly smashing Vader’s lightsaber with his own, is PURE Anger, and nothing else. Then… Luke comes to his senses, notices Vader’s severed hand, and how similar it is to his own. He realizes he’s in danger of going down that same path. It’s only then that he extiguishes his lightsaber and throws it away. Luke had a moment of weakness out of fear. Luke has another moment of weakness – again out of fear – when he momentarily contemplates killing Ben Solo, after seeing whatever he saw. What did he see? Did he see Ben killing his students? Did he see Ben killing Han? Did he see Starkiller Base destroying the Republic? We don’t know what Luke saw, only that he saw enough that it scared him, and out of fear he momentarily considered killing his nephew… just as he nearly killed his own father, the one he was determined to save.

    So, I say it was completely on-track for Luke’s character to have another moment of weakness… and in response to that moment, decide it may be safer for the galaxy if he cuts himself off from the Force.

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