Nation & World

Some nervous about 'Star Wars' future

Disney still has healthy franchises on the way

Lucasfilm

Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo, teaming up with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
Lucasfilm Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo, teaming up with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Until “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” Walt Disney’s efforts to continue the long-running space opera series were virtually unassailable.

Disney’s first three “Star Wars” movies, starting in 2015 with “The Force Awakens,” paid off handsomely for the entertainment giant and its chairman and chief executive, Bob Iger.

But with “Solo,” the seemingly invincible saga has delivered a box-office dud.

The prequel, about the adventures of a young Han Solo, has grossed about $264 million worldwide, including $149 million in the United States and Canada, since its May 25 debut. That’s significantly lagging behind the previous movies.

The film, which cost an estimated $250 million to produce, may result in a write-down of $50 million or more for Disney, one analyst predicted Monday.

Although some analysts said “Solo’s” crash landing was likely a one-off blip for an otherwise successful franchise, others worried it could be the first sign that the barrage of new “Star Wars” material is wearing thin for audiences.

So-called franchise fatigue would be a problem for the Burbank-based studio that has staked much of its future on the continued success of the “Star Wars” movies, which are expected to drive toy sales, theme park visits and a new streaming service.

“It does make you a little bit nervous,” said Barton Crockett, a media and entertainment analyst with B. Riley FBR. “Disney is putting a lot of money into this brand. It’s crucial that this brand feels fresh and relevant.”

Disney declined to comment for this story.

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To be sure, the “Star Wars” movies have been a boon for Disney since it paid $4 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012. The first three films Disney made — “The Force Awakens,” the 2016 spinoff “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and last year’s “The Last Jedi” — grossed $4.5 billion in worldwide receipts and propelled untold merchandise sales.

And Disney can easily absorb one or two duds. Apart from “Solo” and the recent misfire “A Wrinkle in Time,” Disney is having a stellar run at the box office. Marvel’s “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” hauled in $1.3 billion and nearly $2 billion, respectively. Pixar is poised to release the highly anticipated sequel “Incredibles 2” this month, which is expected to be a big draw.

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