Disney’s Big Multibillion-Dollar Year: Fox, Killer Box Office and ‘Black Panther’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

All anyone needs to know to understand the year Disney has had is that the company made a industry shifting $71.3 billion acquisition for Fox’s TV and film entertainment assets. Oh, and the studio had the biggest movie of the year in “Black Panther,” and three of the top five highest grossing films of the year; oh, and five of the top 10 (as of publication).

Disney is on track to top $3 billion at the domestic box office, which has which has only been done once before (by Disney, just barely, in 2016), and already passed the $7 billion mark worldwide.

By virtually any metric, 2018 has been an impressive year for Disney.

“Black Panther” opened in February and has remained relevant throughout the year, garnering $700.1 million at the domestic box office and $1.3 billion worldwide. Ryan Coogler’s franchise-launching film, which has been at the center of the Best Picture conversation for the Oscars, earned Disney-owned superhero studio Marvel its first Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Drama.

Also Read: Disney Hits $7 Billion at Global Box Office for Second Time in 3 Years

“Avengers: Infinity War” ($678.8 million), “Incredibles 2” ($608.6 million), “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($216.6 million) and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” ($213.8 million) are also among the 10 highest-grossing films of 2018.

“Yes, it’s insane,” CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amobi said. “Disney over the last three years has been consistently outperforming or leading the market share at the box office and by large margins.”

There were set backs, however. Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” underperformed to expectations, pulling in just $100.5 million domestically and squelching hopes for a new fantasy franchise. Another live-action family play, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” went through two directors and extensive reshoots before stage-diving at the box office, with just $54 million.

And the pricey Han Solo spinoff “Solo” went through its own off-set drama before sputtering at the box office. The misfire also raised questions about the direction of Disney’s Lucasfilm division, which shelved all upcoming movies aside from the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

Also Read: ‘Solo’ Is Failing Because Disney Has No Vision for the ‘Star Wars’ Franchise (Commentary)

The studio’s dominance over the other majors is expected to widen once Disney finalizes its multibillion-dollar deal to buy the majority of Fox’s TV and film assets after a bidding war with Comcast.

Disney ultimately shelled out more money for the assets than originally intended, which Amobi believes puts some pressure on the company to prove the deal’s worth to investors. And though Disney lost out on U.K. broadcaster Sky and had to sell Fox’s regional sports networks, the prevailing thought is that Disney won out in the end.

The acquisition should help strengthen Disney’s content offerings as it prepares to launch a standalone streaming service next year and capture more international market share. And fanboys and fangirls can rejoice in Marvel properties such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four now being to join the studio’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Also Read: Fox and Disney Shareholders Vote to Approve $71.3 Billion Merger

Following Disney’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield questioned the company’s commitment to focusing on its upcoming direct-to-consumer streaming service after the Fox deal has closed.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has said that the Disney+ streaming service is a priority, but the studio still receives a chunk of revenue from the theatrical and home video markets.

“They do not want to cannibalize existing revenue streams to propel their [direct-to-consumer] efforts,” Greenfield wrote in a blog post. “Iger’s comments [in November] bolster our view that Disney is making a mistake in launching Disney+, as it will weaken the reach of their brands and franchises vs. maximizing reach and boosting profits by selling to all the tech platforms that are increasingly hungry for Disney’s content.”

Also Read: Disney, Fox Accused of Backing Out of Malaysia Theme Park in $1.75 Billion Lawsuit

It’s true that Disney+ will be a big test for the company. Despite high expectations, Amobi said the decent start for ESPN+ and the new assets gained in the Fox acquisition should provide robust content for the service worldwide. “But the U.S. launch will be critical,” Amobi said.

Along with the franchises, brands and intellectual property picked up from Fox, Disney waltzed into a wealth of executive talent and knowledge.

On the TV side, the company saw a lot of maneuvering, as Disney TV chairman and co-chair of Disney media networks Peter Rice and Disney TV studios and ABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden come over from Fox to take the reins.

Also Read: Inside Disney’s Campaign to Keep Channing Dungey as ABC’s Head of Entertainment and Why It Failed

The film division saw the exit of longtime Pixar and Walt Disney Animation head John Lasseter, after accusations of sexual harassment and assault surfaced in late 2017. The two divisions tapped veterans Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter to assume Lasseter’s duties, and with “Toy Story 4” and “Frozen 2” on the slate for 2019, there’s little cause for concern.

One of the biggest questions raised by the merger is how Disney will integrate Fox Searchlight and its team, who have released four of the past 10 Oscar winners for Best Picture. Co-chairs Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley will report directly to studio boss Alan Horn, but the studio hasn’t given any clear guidance as to how the the banner will operate under a studio that has shied away from adult fare that has been the hallmark of the specialty label.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Is Disney+ a Netflix Killer?

‘Dumbo’: You’ll Believe an Elephant Can Fly in First Trailer for Disney’s Live-Action Remake (Video)

‘Rogue One’ Prequel Series Starring Diego Luna in the Works for Disney Streaming Service

‘Solo’ Writer Reveals Four Scenes Conceived by Phil Lord & Chris Miller That Made the Final Cut

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Since “Solo: A Star Wars Story” hit theaters in May, fans have wondered how much of the creative input of ousted directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller made it into Ron Howard’s final cut. According to co-writer Jon Kasdan, the answer is… quite a bit.

To mark the film’s digital release, Kasdan posted a list of fun facts on Twitter about its development and production, noting four scenes that Lord & Miller — who left the project midway through production due to creative differences and were replaced with Howard — added to the project.

Creative touches by the duo can be seen from the very beginning of the film, as they came up with the landspeeder chase through the Empire-dominated planet of Corellia. Not only did Kasdan agree that opening the movie with the chase would give it an exciting start, but it would also demonstrate how skilled Han Solo was as a pilot even from an early age.

Also Read: 5 Reasons Why ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Crumbled at the Box Office

The meeting of Han and Chewbacca as seen in the film was also largely crafted by Lord & Miller, whom Kasdan credits for the part where Han convinces Chewie to help him by speaking his language in a broken accent.

Lord & Miller also worked with Kasdan to develop Lando’s droid companion L3, with Kasdan noting the polarizing nature of the character “in these extremely divisive and politically charged times.” Kasdan says L3 was born from Miller noting the anti-droid prejudice of the bartender at the Mos Eisley Cantina in the first “Star Wars” film, especially considering droids are the least violent race in the galaxy.

The two also dreamed up the detail to have Han and Qi’ra kiss in Lando’s cape closet onboard the Millennium Falcon, serving as a parallel to Han’s later relationship with Leia in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Also Read: Does This ‘Solo’ Deleted Scene Give Us a New Glimpse at Lord and Miller’s Version?

“We liked the idea of seeing Han in a similar situation, with a similar type of banter, but a very different partner, one who maybe teaches him a thing or two,” wrote Kasdan. “The relationship between Han and Qi’ra was never intended to be concluded at the end of this movie. It’s a story I hope we get to tell more of someday ’cause I like their diverging paths.”

Of course, there is no guarantee that Kasdan will get that chance, as “Solo” was the biggest box office disappointment of this past summer. Grossing just $392.9 million globally against a production budget said to have ballooned to $250 million, it’s the lowest grossing film in the 41-year history of “Star Wars.”

But Kasdan is still holding out hope.

Also Read: Yes, That Was THAT Dead Villain in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ – Here’s What it Means

“To be honest, I think the challenge has much more to do with the foreign box office than the U.S.,” Kasdan concluded. “Personally I think there are great ‘Star Wars’ movies to be made that don’t need to cost quite so much.”

“Hopefully, that will be the trend in the years to come […] Given the way Hollywood, and the culture at large, seem to run from anything labeled a disappointment, the odds seem like they’re against it happening anytime soon. But I suppose Han wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Does This ‘Solo’ Deleted Scene Give Us a New Glimpse at Lord and Miller’s Version?

‘Indiana Jones 5’ Release Date Pushed, ‘Solo’ Writer Jonathan Kasdan Working on New Draft

5 Reasons Why ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Crumbled at the Box Office

Chewbacca would prefer not to eat people, but he will if he has to

Read on: The A.V. Club.

In Solo: A Star Wars Story, little Han meets Chewbacca after he gets thrown into a cell while trying to ditch the Imperial military and join up with Woody Harrelson’s crew of smugglers. The implication from the soldiers is that they’re expecting the im…

Disney Q3 Earnings Outlook Dims On ‘Solo,’ M&A “Uncertainty” – Analyst

Read on: Deadline.

Disney should report a profitable fiscal third quarter in a few weeks’ time, powered by its media networks and theme parks, predicts Wall Street analyst Steven Cahall of RBC Capital Markets. Even so, the misfiring of Star Wars spinoff Solo and un…

‘Solo’ Limps to $148 Million in 10 Days – Less Than ‘Rogue One’ Opening Weekend

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The numbers for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” barely picked up on its second Saturday in theaters, with it now projected to make $29.3 million this weekend, a 64 percent drop from its $84.7 million launch.

This amount would push the 10-day total for “Solo” up to $148.9 million, which is less than what the last anthology film, “Rogue One,” made in its opening weekend. Released in December 2016, “Rogue One” opened to $155 million and grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

Overseas, “Solo” made $30 million this weekend, and is on pace to become the lowest-grossing “Star Wars” film ever with $425-475 million globally, according to analyst estimates. Worldwide totals are expected to take a hit in the coming weeks, as “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” opens in major European markets next weekend and the upcoming FIFA World Cup provides outside competition to international cinemas.

Also Read: ‘Solo’ Continues to Nosedive at Box Office

Sitting in second is “Deadpool 2,” which will cross the $250 million domestic mark with a third weekend total of $23-24 million. That puts it past the domestic run of last year’s R-rated “Logan,” which made $226 million last spring. “Deadpool 2” is also on pace to become only the fourth R-rated film to grossed $350 million domestically, joining “The Passion of the Christ,” “American Sniper” and the first “Deadpool.”

In third is STX’s “Adrift,” which posted a solid $11.5 million opening this weekend from 3,015 screens. Starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin, the survival romance was made on a $35 million budget co-financed by STX. Reception for the film has been positive, with a 67 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and a B on CinemaScore.

Also Read: ‘Solo’ Is Failing Because Disney Has No Vision for the ‘Star Wars’ Franchise (Commentary)

In fourth is “Avengers: Infinity War,” which added $10.4 million in its sixth weekend and has a global total of $1.96 billion. In China, the film now has $356 million after four weekends, making it the third-highest grossing Western release in that country. Paramount’s “Book Club” completes the top five with $6.6 million, bringing its domestic total after three weekends to $47 million.

Outside the top five are OTL/BH Tilt’s revenge thriller “Upgrade” sits sixth this weekend with $4.4 million from its targeted release on 1,457 screens, and Paramount’s slapstick adult comedy “Action Point,” which has wiped out with just $2.2 million from 2,032 screens. Starring Johnny Knoxville, the film was made on a $19 million budget and received a C+ on CinemaScore.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Solo’ Is Failing Because Disney Has No Vision for the ‘Star Wars’ Franchise (Commentary)

5 Reasons Why ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Crumbled at the Box Office

Disney-ABC Chief Ben Sherwood ‘So Sorry’ for ‘Roseanne’ Staff After Abrupt Cancellation

Disney Shares Drop 2.4 Percent Following Poor ‘Solo’ Box Office, ‘Roseanne’ Cancellation

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney HQ likely wasn’t the happiest place on Earth on Tuesday, as shares of the entertainment giant closed at $99.72, down 2.4 percent after a double-whammy of bad news.

The decline followed a tough weekend at the box office for Disney as the film studio’s latest Lucasfilm project, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” underperformed, bringing in just $103 million in box office receipts for the 4-day Memorial Day weekend.

Disney had expected the film to open with $130 million. The disappointing returns of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” has raised concerns for Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” universe.

Also Read: Things Are About to Get Worse for ‘Solo’

Disney’s tough day was compounded by more controversy surrounding Roseanne Barr, the star of its No. 1 show on ABC. The network canceled “Roseanne” on Tuesday after the actress tweeted a comparison of former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to “The Planet of the Apes” — a joke that the comedian quickly deleted and apologized for.

In the tweet, Roseanne said of Jarrett “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj.” Jarrett, who was born in Iran, is African-American.

Roseanne later apologized for what she said was a joke made in poor taste, but ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey canceled the show hours later, saying, “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”

Also Read: 5 Reasons Why ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Crumbled at the Box Office

Disney CEO Bob Iger also endorsed the network’s decision to pull the plug on its newest cash cow, calling it “the right thing.”

The show, while No. 1 at the network, had its fair share of critics who disagreed with some of the politics and social commentary.

In the last five trading sessions, Disney shares have declined more than 3 percent, and shares are down more than 7 percent so far this year.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Roseanne’ Scrapped: ABC Just Canceled TV’s Most-Watched Show

‘Roseanne’ Cast, Showrunner React to Star’s Tweets After Show Cancellation: ‘Abhorrent,’ ‘Abuse of Power’

Things Are About to Get Worse for ‘Solo’

China Box Office: ‘Solo’ Opens Third Behind ‘How Long’ and ‘Avengers’

Read on: Variety.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” opened in third place in China behind holdovers “How Long Will I Love U,” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” The misfire meant one of the quietest weekends of the year for the Chinese box office. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” managed j…

‘Solo’ on Track for $114 Million in Less Than Stellar 4-Day Holiday Debut

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is on track for a $114 million four-day Memorial Day weekend opening, which, based on previous projections, is a disappointment.

Current estimates have the latest “Star Wars” making $35.8 million on Friday from 4,381 screens. That includes $14.1 million from Thursday previews, the best ever for a Memorial Day weekend release.

By Memorial Day standards, “Solo” is doing quite well. If this projection were to hold, Ron Howard’s space heist would be sitting around the $117 million four-day start made five years ago by “Fast & Furious 6” and have one of the top five best opening weekends for a Memorial Day release.

Also Read: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ – Did You Catch Han’s ‘Back to the Future’ Reference?

But by “Star Wars” standards, “Solo” is not performing up to past installments. A four-day result of $115 million would be 25 percent down from the $155 million three-day opening made by the last “Star Wars” anthology film, “Rogue One,” which was released in December 2016. While a lower opening was expected, as this is the first Disney-released “Star Wars” film opening in the summer, it’s still below Disney’s pre-weekend projections of a $130 million launch.

In fact, it would also be lower than the three-day start for the last “Star Wars” film to open in May, “Revenge of the Sith,” which hit theaters on a Thursday in May 2005 and made $124 million in three days.

And there’s also the fact that the bar for profitability for this film is higher than other Lucasfilm projects, thanks to the film’s much publicized mid-production director swap and subsequent reshoots. With a reported budget of over $250 million before marketing, it’s not looking like “Solo” will immediately make its money back the way the last three “Star Wars” installments have done during the holiday season.

Also Read: Ron Howard Is ‘Seriously Exploring’ More ‘Willow’

The small bit of hope for this film? Opening night crowds loved it, giving it an A- on CinemaScore. If “Solo” manages to bring its receipts back to projected levels over the course of the weekend, it will likely come from the word-of-mouth given by those early viewers. Critics were fairly positive in their reviews with a 71 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, the consensus being that it’s a fun space adventure. More moviegoers might turn out if they hear similar appraisal from the first round of audiences… or if they hear about the surprise return of a certain character from the series’ past.

Also Read: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Film Review: So-So Prequel Says Nothing New About Beloved Characters

Outside the galaxy far, far away, “Deadpool 2” is looking like it will have a very good second weekend. The R-rated Marvel sequel is looking at a four-day total of $55-57 million, which would put its domestic total at a very solid $220 million. That would put its running domestic total just 9 percent behind the pace set by the first “Deadpool” two years ago.

“Avengers: Infinity War” will take third with an estimated $20-22 million over the extended weekend, pushing its domestic total to above $625 million as it draws closer and closer to the $2 billion mark. In fourth is Paramount’s “Book Club,” which is estimated to make $12.5 million this weekend, down just a tick from its $13.5 million opening.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ – Did You Catch Han’s ‘Back to the Future’ Reference?

Yes, That Was THAT Dead Villain in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ — Here’s What it Means

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Film Review: So-So Prequel Says Nothing New About Beloved Characters

22 Times ‘Solo’ Recycled Moments From the Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The new Disney era of “Star Wars” is well known at this point for its incessant nods to old “Star Wars” movies, and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” takes that to a whole new live by essentially recycling entire scenes and …

Donald Glover Had to Audition for ‘Solo’ One More Time Than Alden Ehrenreich (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Solo: A Star Wars” story hasn’t even come out yet, and already so many fans have been saying they can’t imagine anyone who’d be a better fit to play Lando Calrissian than Donald Glover. (Except maybe Billy Dee Williams). But, according to Glover, the filmmakers weren’t entirely sold on him from the beginning — or at least not as sold on him as lead Alden Ehrenreich.

Glover and Ehrenreich, who plays the titular Han Solo in the upcoming “Star Wars” prequel flick, stopped by the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” Monday to talk about their good times auditioning and improvising together. Although, when Lando found out he had to come in just one more time than Han to land the role, he was a little taken aback.

“I think I auditioned like way less than you. I think I auditioned seven times,” Glover said to Ehrenreich while sitting down with DeGeneres. “No, I auditioned six times. Yeah,” Ehrenreich corrected him. “Oh, they weren’t sure about me,” Glover deadpanned to a cracking up audience.

Also Read: Lando Calrissian Is Pansexual, Says ‘Solo’ Screenwriter

The two also went into detail about directions they would get on set when they tried to ad lib lines, such as not being allowed to say things like “Saved by the Bell” and “banana.”

“There is somebody there who knows everything about ‘Star Wars’ by the side being like, ‘You can’t say banana. Banana doesn’t exist,’” Glover joked.

Watch the clip above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Lando Calrissian Is Pansexual, Says ‘Solo’ Screenwriter

‘Solo’ Is Solid: Critics Call ‘Star Wars’ Anthology Film a Fanboy’s Dream Come True

All 10 ‘Star Wars’ Movies Ranked, From ‘New Hope’ to ‘Solo’

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Film Review: So-So Prequel Says Nothing New About Beloved Characters

Lando Calrissian Is Pansexual, Says ‘Solo’ Screenwriter

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan has dropped an intergalactic revelation: Smuggler Lando Calrissian is pansexual.

“I would say yes,” Kasdan told the Huffington Post. “There’s a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee’s [portrayal of Lando’s] sexuality,” Kasdan added.

“I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie. I think it’s time, certainly, for that, and I love the fluidity ― sort of the spectrum of sexuality that Donald appeals to and that droids are a part of.”

Also Read: ‘Solo’ Is Solid: Critics Call ‘Star Wars’ Anthology Film a Fanboy’s Dream Come True

In the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Lando was played by Billy Dee Williams, who gave Donald Glover the simple instructions to “just be charming.”

It appears that Glover took the advice to heart because as young Lando, he plays up the character’s charm and adds a new layer to the gambling swashbuckler.

“He doesn’t make any hard and fast rules. I think it’s fun,” Kasdan said. “I don’t know where it will go.”

Also Read: All 10 ‘Star Wars’ Movies Ranked, From ‘New Hope’ to ‘Solo’

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” follows young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) as he gets started on his life of crime, meets and befriends Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), gets hold of the Millennium Falcon and gambles with Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). It also stars Woody Harrelson, who plays Tobias Beckett, Han’s mentor in piracy.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” opens May 25.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ First Reactions Are In: ‘Donald Glover Continues to Be Perfect’

Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover at ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Premiere (Photos)

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Shows Chewie Has Been Bad at Holochess For Years (Video)

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Film Review: So-So Prequel Says Nothing New About Beloved Characters

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In the same way that musical movies eventually become sing-alongs, I wouldn’t be surprised if the later theatrical run of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” included “Hey, I Recognize That!” screenings.

Audience members could be handed little hotel-desk bells that they could hit every time the movie lays out some bit of “Star Wars” lore. Han Solo meets Chewbacca for the first time? Ding! Discussion of the Kessel Run, complete with parsecs? Ding! Deep-cut reference to one of the Lando Calrissian novels? Ding ding ding!

“Solo” is less a movie than it’s that page in Highlights Magazine that makes you feel good for finding the chair and the bicycle in the hidden picture. As an intergalactic adventure, it’s mostly adequate, with some very successful elements, but if you stripped the “Star Wars” names and places and put it into the world as a free-standing sci-fi-action movie, it’s doubtful that it would spawn much excitement, let alone sequels.

Watch Video: Final ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Trailer Lands With a Bang: ‘Assume Everyone Will Betray You’

Yes, the film has had a somewhat tortured production history, with original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller getting shown the escape pod before Ron Howard came in and did a majority do-over. But the shortcomings of “Solo” are the shortcomings of most prequels: at least as far back as “Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies,” these tales have been the ultimate brand of fan service, showing us established characters meeting for the first time and offering mini origin stories for outfits, vehicles and catch-phrases. (I’m shocked “Solo” didn’t squeeze in a movie-star entrance for Han’s vest.)

Screenwriters Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan clearly relish the opportunity to write dialogue for swashbuckling renegades, but they’re also stuck doing a lot of retrofitting that goes nowhere. We don’t learn much about Han Solo’s background that fleshes out or deepens his character, but we sure do learn who gave him his last name.

When we meet young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), he’s one of many thieving orphans being exploited by the reptilian, Fagin-like Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt). Han and his sweetheart Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) have a plan to run off together, but they’re separated at the airport, where he makes it through the gate and she doesn’t. Vowing to get a ship so that he can come back for her, Han volunteers for the Imperial armed forces.

Watch Video: Watch ‘Star Wars’ Mashed Up With ‘Arrested Development’ Narrated by ‘Solo’ Director Ron Howard

Three years later, he’s been kicked out of pilot training and stuck in the mud in one of the Empire’s many ongoing wars. But he sees a way out by hooking up with a team of thieves led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton). Ditching the army to join their crew, Han sets off on a series of adventures that will reunite him with Qi’ra – now in the thrall of mobster Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) – and introduce him to a helpful Wookiee named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and a rakish gambler named Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).

What works best in “Solo” are the performances, from droids voiced by Jon Favreau and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”) to the utterly charismatic Ehrenreich and Glover. Ehrenreich proved his old-school star quality with his daffy and charming performance in “Hail, Caesar!” and here he pulls off the daunting task of stepping in for Harrison Ford, masking the character’s commitment to seemingly lost causes with devil-may-care insouciance.

Watch Video: Harrison Ford Crashes Alden Ehrenreich’s Interview: ‘Get Out of My Life!’

The “Star Wars” movies always criminally underutilized Billy Dee Williams as Lando, but Glover sweeps this film off its feet as often as he can, swanning through it like the Cary Grant of Outer Space. These two are more than “Solo” deserves, since the action is routine when it’s not genuinely baffling, while the plotting is pure “go to the place and get the thing” filler.

This might also be the least epic “Star Wars” movie to date: The big set pieces either last too long (a heist on a suspended railroad) or lack narrative logic (the legendary Kessel Run), and the muted color scheme sucks the fun out of the proceedings. (Cinematographer Bradford Young’s palette pops only for Lando’s outfits and to visually convey the new-car-smell of the Millennium Falcon’s maiden voyage.)

“Solo” tells us nothing about these characters that we didn’t already learn from Episodes IV-VII — although hearing their names said aloud so frequently does raise the question of whether someone named “Han” should be Chinese and “Calrissian,” Armenian. While the movie ends in a way that’s clearly designed to prompt further sequels, we don’t get that prequel X factor that makes us interested in a character arc whose outcome we already know. “Better Call Saul” knows how to do this; “Solo” doesn’t.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Shows Chewie Has Been Bad at Holochess For Years (Video)

New ‘Solo’ Clips Hark Back to the Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy (Video)

‘Solo’ Early Tracking Charts Course to $170 Million Memorial Day Opening

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’: Phil Lord and Chris Miller Receive Executive Producer Credits

Here’s When Jon Favreau’s Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ TV Series Takes Place

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Force is strong with Jon Favreau, who is already planning out the specifics of his upcoming, live-action Star Wars series — including its timeline.

Favreau told Nerdist during the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” premiere that the currently-untitled show is set seven years after the Battle of Endor in “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.”

The director said his Disney series will land between that last film in the original trilogy — starring Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill — and “The Force Awakens,” and introduce audiences to new characters within the Star Wars-verse.

Also Read: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ First Reactions Are In: ‘Donald Glover Continues to Be Perfect’

That means the show will take place 23 years before “The Force Awakens,” the first installment in the latest trilogy, and four years before Rey (Daisy Ridley) was born (via Nerdist calculations).

Favreau also revealed that he will be using the same technology for the series as he did for Disney’s “The Jungle Book” in 2016 and the upcoming live-action “Lion King” remake.

The series doesn’t have a premiere date yet, but will be landing on Disney’s streaming service, which is expected to launch in late 2019. The Mouse House has said Favreau’s is one of “multiple Star Wars” projects in development for their SVOD.

Also Read: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover at ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Premiere (Photos)

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” opens in theaters May 25.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ First Reactions Are In: ‘Donald Glover Continues to Be Perfect’

Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover at ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Premiere (Photos)

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Shows Chewie Has Been Bad at Holochess For Years (Video)

New ‘Solo’ Clips Hark Back to the Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy (Video)

Watch ‘Star Wars’ Mashed Up With ‘Arrested Development’ Narrated by ‘Solo’ Director Ron Howard (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

May sees not one but two major Ron Howard productions — a “remix” of the fourth season of “Arrested Development” landing on Netlix May 4, (with a fifth season imminent), and of course the Howard-directed “Solo: A Star Wars Story” which hits theaters May 25. But what if those two things could be combined?

They have been, courtesy of a new sketch from “The Star Wars Show” featuring Howard narrating the story of “Star Wars: A New Hope” in the style of his narration from “Arrested Development.”

“Now the story of a family that wants to rule the galaxy, and the one son who had no choice but to save it,” narrates Howard. Watch the whole thing above.

Howard served as the executive producer, as well as the narrator on the iconic former Fox sitcom “Arrested Development.” In “The Stars Wars show” sketch, Howard even gives his upcoming movie “Solo” a plug.

Also Read: ‘Solo’ Featurette Teases Look at Daily Life in the Galactic Empire (Video)

After the scene at the cantina on Mos Eisley in which Han Solo famously says, “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs,” Howard chimes in “Hey, that would make an interesting movie. Go see ‘Solo: A Star Wars Movie,’ only in theaters May 25.”

This isn’t the first time someone has mashed up “Star Wars” and “Arrested Development” — Nerdist did one last year using Howard’s audio from the show — but this time, Ron Howard recorded original material.

Howard stepped in to direct Disney’s “Solo” movie last year, just two days after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go from the “Star Wars” spinoff.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” opens in theaters May 25. It also stars Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Woody Harrelson.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Summer’s 5 Biggest Box Office Showdowns, Including ‘Deadpool 2’ vs. ‘Solo’ (Photos)

Dolby, Disney Extend Deal Starting With ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

‘Rampage’ Star Jason Liles Tells Us Why Dwayne Johnson Was His ‘Han Solo’

25 Summer Movies We’re Dying to See, From ‘Deadpool 2’ to ‘Ocean’s 8’ (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Summer 2018 is bringing a wealth of promising movies to the cineplex. Here are some of the buzziest.
May 4: “Overboard”
A remake of the 1987 original starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, 2018’s “Overboard” features Anna …