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Disney slashes 'Solo' box office forecast as early ticket sales deeply disappoint

Disney slashes 'Solo' box office forecast as early ticket sales deeply disappoint
Alden Ehrenreich plays Han Solo, and Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca in "Solo: A Star Wars Story." (Jonathan Olley / Lucasfilm)

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.

Ticket 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.

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The "Star Wars" films are a key part of Disney's movie slate, which also includes the hugely successful Marvel movies and Pixar animated features. "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% share of domestic ticket sales through May 20, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Burbank company 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.

Sakoui writes for Bloomberg.

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