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Thanks to a director change in the middle of production, mediocre box office performance and pretty good but not great reviews, the narrative surrounding Solo has been consistently negative or at least tinged with negativity. That doesn’t sit right with Alden Ehrenreich. He knows the movie didn’t do as well as other entries in the Star Wars catalog, but he thinks the media perspective was still far too negative.
The actor recently talked to Total Film and reflected on his experience working on Solo. The whole process apparently took him three years and was an “amazing adventure”, but that doesn’t mean every feeling he has about the movie is warm. The lack of nuance surrounding the reporting on the film still bothers him. Here’s a look at part of his quote…
It didn’t do as well as other Star Wars movies, but it still did well for a movie. And so it was kind of this medium thing. But that’s not newsworthy. Even at high-level journalism, there’s an intense pressure, sometimes, it feels like, to catastrophise or celebrate... An article headline that says ‘things are complicated, and there are good sides and bad sides’ isn’t getting the emotional response.
It’s definitely true that the media tends to polarize not only the good and the bad but also everything in between. When it comes to Solo, there’s a lot to look at; so, let’s separate the conversation into box office and general perception. The first is box office. Was the media unfair to Solo by calling it a box office failure? Well, it’s certainly fair to call it a disappointment. The film was reportedly made for $300M according to Deadline. The film grossed a total of $392M and change worldwide. When you factor in marketing costs and percentage theaters keep, especially overseas, there’s no way the film made its money back theatrically (if the budget numbers are accurate). That being said, when you throw in home entertainment and life it’s getting out of streaming services and merchandise and what not, Solo was definitely not a disaster. It wasn’t what I’m sure Disney hoped, but sometimes that happens.
Now, when it comes to the narrative surrounding the film’s quality, I think Ehrenreich has a much stronger point. There were some who felt the movie shouldn’t even be made in the first place, and many of those who were optimistic or willing to give it a chance soured pretty quickly when original directors Lord & Miller left the project during production. Ron Howard was brought in to stabilize the ship, but that didn’t change the hew of pessimism that tinted almost all coverage of the film in the leadup to its release. The film ultimately got 70 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Personally, I think it’s a lot of fun. Most people who I know who have seen it are at least luke warm, but the negative perception exists among many who haven’t watched it even to this day.
Fortunately for both Ehrenreich and the movie itself, that negative perception is starting to change at least a little bit. Many fans are discovering or rediscovering the movie on Disney+, and the reaction seems to be generally positive. The actor has felt that in some conversations with fans, and he’s really thankful for it. Here’s another quote from his Total Film interview…
For it to be able to be seen would take a second [viewing]. And I think that’s borne itself out. And it really means a lot, and is wonderful, especially with kids, who are excited about it.
Ultimately, there’s a big difference between a movie that is a failure and a movie that didn’t quite do as well as hoped. I think it’s accurate and fair to say all involved wish Solo had connected with fans a little more and made a bit more money, but I also think it’s accurate and fair to say Ehrenreich is correct is his implication that many covering the movie were unfairly negative. The media too often acted as if the Millennium Falcon had crashed when really its Kessel Run time was just a little slower than everyone hoped.