Will “Solo” Gain a Second Life on Home Release?

Matthew Loffhagen
Lucasfilm
(Photo: Lucasfilm)

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” has endured a heft 65% drop-off in box office revenue during its second weekend in theaters.

This has got to hurt. Big drop-offs are often common for big blockbusters once the eager fans have all had their fill. Even so, this is a painfully large slowdown in foot traffic around a tentpole “Star Wars” movie.

Things have been worse. “The Last Jedi” experienced a 67.5% box office drop in its second week, still the worst in “Star Wars” history.

Of course, “The Last Jedi” also did really, really well in its first week, so that drop-off wasn’t too unusual.

With “Solo”, a 65% drop means that despite a tiny audience for its opening weekend, even fewer people bothered to see it the week after.

Statistically speaking, if you haven’t seen “Solo” in theaters by now, you’re probably not going to bother. The film’s audience is going to trickle in bit-by-bit over the next few weeks, but the movie is basically done.

So, now we’re in an interesting situation. A big budget “Star Wars” movie (possibly the most expensive in history thanks to all those reshoots) has failed to capture audience attention on the big screen.

There exists a “Star Wars” movie that (almost) nobody has seen, out of sheer apathy.

So how long will this remain the status quo? Will “Solo” enjoy a healthy second life once it reaches home release?

You Can Never Go Home

“Star Wars” movies have always been big hits on home release.

Many fans of the series have grown up seeing these movies over and over and over again on VHS tapes, DVDs, Blu-Rays, and even laserdiscs. It’s now also possible to own all but the latest “Star Wars” as a digital download.

So are people going to rush out to download “Solo” once it’s out of theaters?

It’s possible – the inconvenience of the movie theater has got to have hurt the film’s initial performance. Tickets are expensive, and it’s a hassle to go to sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers for one of these films.

Some fans likely are waiting until they can enjoy “Solo” at home, where it’ll be a lot cheaper and more comfortable to watch the film. Plus, you can pause to get up and pee, which makes the home viewing experience infinitely more enjoyable.

Solo Emelia Clarke
Source: Lucasfilm

But considering that nobody wants to pay for this on the big screen, I suspect that the cost of a Blu-Ray or digital download will still be too much for many people.

Instead, I think this film will come into its own when it hits subscription-based streaming services.

Free is the Perfect Price

We’ve already seen some of the Disney “Star Wars” films released on streaming platforms such as Netflix. These occurrences are rare, and never seem to last very long, but they’re often popular with those who want to watch “The Force Awakens” or “Rogue One” on their phones for no additional cost.

Now, you don’t need to pause the movie to pee! You can simply take the film with you to the bathroom.

There’s a benefit to films being free – or at least, included in the cost of Netflix. I can’t imagine half as many people would have seen “Bright” if it weren’t for the fact that it was bundled with their standard subscription for no extra cost.

What’s more, Disney’s streaming service is right around the corner, and I get the feeling that it’s going to do well. People are probably going to be very comfortable with the idea of paying $10 or $15 a month to have access to the entire library of Disney, Marvel, and Lucasfilm movies.

So when “Solo” finally reaches one of these platforms, when it’s functionally free because viewers are already paying a subscription for the service, will people actually watch this film?

Yes. I think they will.

Solo Woody Harrelson
Source: Lucasfilm

It’s a far cry from what Disney was hoping for with this movie, but eventually, “Solo” will enter the cultural zeitgeist with greater force.

I foresee that this movie could be a slow burner, picking up attention gradually over the years as a dedicated fanbase rallies around it.

That said, this theory relies on the expectation that newer, better “Star Wars” movies don’t entirely eclipse “Solo”.

It’s probably for the best that there’s a year and a half’s wait until “Episode IX”. Audiences need a chance to finally get around to watching “Solo”.

Just as soon as they’ve finished binging “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” or some other far more appealing show on Netflix.