Over a year on from the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the dust has settled on Disney’s first flop from the revived Star Wars universe. The prequel was plagued with problems that led to the highly discussed firing of directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller. Ron Howard was drafted in to finish the film, but as he retained sole credit, all of Lord & Miller’s material was reshot.
Speaking on The Happy Sad Confused Podcast, Howard revealed his feelings towards Solo, and what caused it to miss the mark with audiences.
“I feel very good about the way it turned out. I love the way it played to audiences, which I witnessed and was a part of. So all of that I’m able to feel good about. Sure, I wish it would’ve done [better] and lived up to the box office and so forth, so that’s disappointing. Why? Maybe it’s the release. Maybe it’s the idea that it’s sort of too nostalgic, going back and revisiting an origin story for a beloved character may not be what the fans were looking for. It kind of seemed to me, looking at it, the opening — which was big, not as big as the others, it was probably my biggest opening, personally, it was still disappointing to them — I think those are the hardcore fans. It sort of tells you how many people are tagalongs who need to wait to see what people think and whether it’s essential, if it’s a zeitgeist movie or not, and whether it’s just ‘I love Star Wars, and I want to see what’s next.’”
Speaking more directly about the disappointing box office, Howard added;
“Whatever millions [Solo] made worldwide, those were the core fans, but it didn’t hit that zeitgeist point, for whatever reason. Timing, young Han Solo, pushback from the previous movie, which I kept hearing was maybe something. And some trolling, definitely some trolling. Some actual aggressive… It was pretty interesting. Not so much, a little bit the Twitter feed, yes, but it was especially noticeable prior to the release of the movie. Several of the algorithms, whether it was Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, there was an inordinate push down on the ‘want to see’ and on the fan voting. And when you look at it, it’s like 3, 4, 5 — or whatever the rating is, I forget what the rating is on Rotten Tomatoes, whether it’s a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 — but pretty high, and then a series of 0s or .5s or 1s.”
The negativity surrounding Solo clearly played a role in its lack of success; the project was met with mixed feelings from fans BEFORE Lord & Miller were sacked. For me, their involvement (and Donald Glover) is what garnered any interest in the film. Solo’s Rotten Tomatoes score has improved since its original release, but to be blunt, Solo didn’t feel like a Star Wars movie in any way, and Alden Ehrenreich just isn’t Han Solo. Howard is a fine filmmaker and one whose body of work I have enjoyed. He does a serviceable job in difficult circumstances, and that is to his complete credit. The truth is, Solo isn’t the worst film ever made, it is, however, a completely unnecessary one.