Writing at Forbes.com, Scott Mendelsohn takes a look at the various elements which conspired to sink Solo: A Star Wars Story at the worldwide box office (as Mendelsohn puts it, not presenting itself as ‘a must-see movie amid a summer of must-see biggies’), and how that confluence of factors shouldn’t affect the box office potential of next Decembers Episode IX after a much-needed 18 month gap.
One of the key factors once again is the international reception of the saga, and how success at the North American box office is more important to Star Wars than ever.
The big risk for Episode IX is arguably losing the overseas audience, which has shown time and time again that they don’t view Star Wars as the mother of all blockbuster franchises. For example, Rogue One earned less overseas than Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And it was overseas disinterest than killed Solo.
The biggest risk for Episode IX is in overseas disinterest, although the lack of comparatively “big” competition may mitigate some of that. Overseas audiences weren’t the ones who took to the proverbial streets in protest after Snoke died and Leia floated in space because, to many of them, Star Wars is just another sci-fi blockbuster franchise. The fan outrage (both genuine or anti-SJW motivated) came from North American audiences. However, North American audiences that are most likely to be primed for what is being sold as the final chapter of the Skywalker saga, complete with a return of both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Overseas audiences weren’t outraged by Old Man Luke and domestic audiences are the very ones most likely to show up for the end game.
A slightly simplistic viewpoint regarding the overseas opinion of Episode VIII, but nevertheless it stands that the international box office is the key. With China – soon to be the single biggest market on the planet – very publicly tuning out to the saga, Episode IX needs to be marketed to perfection to ensure another billion dollar box office bonanza.