Ron Howard blames trolling for 'Star Wars' flop

Solo: A Star Wars Story (Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Ron Howard reckons that the robust trolling that befell his Star Wars movie Solo was among the reasons it failed at the box office.

The movie was targeted by trolls prior to its release, largely driven by fans who had become disenchanted by the franchise in the wake of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Reviews aggregator sites were flooded with bad reviews, even before it hit screens.

Director Howard told the Happy Sad Confused podcast: “Whatever millions [Solo] made worldwide, those were the core fans, but it didn’t hit that zeitgeist point, for whatever reason.

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“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.

This April 30, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Ron Howard posing for a portrait in New York to promote his documentary "Pavarotti." Howard hopes his new documentary about opera icon Luciano Pavarotti will introduce the singer to a young generation that never got to hear him before his death in 2007. The film opens nationwide on June 7. (Photo by Christopher Smith/Invision/AP)
Ron Howard (Credit: Christopher Smith/Invision/AP)

“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.”

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The movie, which found Alden Ehrenreich playing the young Han Solo, was the second spin-off from the main Star Wars franchise, following the billion dollar hit Rogue One.

But it failed to bring audiences to the multiplexes, making just shy of $392 million worldwide, with a budget thought to be in the region of $300 million, making it the first ever Star Wars flop.

Deadline calculated its losses at more than $75 million after expenses and marketing budgets.

Stories of turmoil on set perhaps didn't help – Kathleen Kennedy reportedly clashed with the original directors, Lego Movie and Jump Street helmsmen Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who, it was claimed, were making to film lean too much towards comedy.

Kennedy fired them, bringing in Howard to finish things off, but despite decent reviews, audiences didn't flock to see it, with some industry folk blaming a failure in marketing it.

But Howard is still pleased with the result.

“I feel very good about the way it turned out,” he went on.

“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.'”

Next up for Star Wars is The Rise of Skywalker, due out in the UK on December 19.