The promotional poster for Solo: A Star Wars Movie (Source: Walt Disney Co.)

Disney Slashes Forecast for ‘Solo’ as Early Ticket Sales Sag

(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co. slashed its opening-weekend forecast for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” as early returns from theaters signaled a deeply disappointing opening for the company’s newest space adventure film.

Sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters are likely to total $105 million to $115 million through the four-day Memorial Day weekend, Disney said Friday in an email. That’s a sharp cut from prior company estimates that ran as high as $150 million.

The “Star Wars” films are a key part of Disney’s movie slate, which also includes the hugely successful Marvel movies and animated features from Pixar. “Solo” was expected to be the lowest-performing of the “Star Wars” movies under Disney, but the new forecast undercuts analysts’ estimates and signals a poor public response.

Disney leads the box office this year on the strength of the new Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” and the latest “Avengers” film. The company held a 34 percent share of domestic ticket sales through May 20, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Burbank, California-based studio hasn’t revealed the full cost of “Solo,” but Disney changed directors midway through production and undertook costly reshoots. Variety put the budget at more than $250 million, before the tens of millions spent on marketing.

Early international sales, a crucial revenue source for Hollywood studios’ biggest productions, also look slow. “Solo” opened in first place in many territories, with an estimated Thursday-Friday tally of $11.4 million from 43 markets, Disney said Friday. But in China, the movie looked set to earn just $10 million over the weekend, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The only major market not opening this weekend is Japan.

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