BOX OFFICE: “Solo” WAY below Memorial Day Estimates, “Deadpool” swoons

box1The pre-weekend box office projections were based on studio estimates, market research based on franchise awareness, audience eagerness, yadda yadda.

And they ranged from $115 million to as high as $142. It wasn’t just Box Office Guru and Deadline.com, always iffy, that were off. Everybody was figuring “Solo” would do just fine.

I mean, “A Star Wars Story,” right? Another weekend of Disney making a mint.

Nope. Didn’t happen. By Saturday, estimates were spiraling down into the low of end the predicted range, by Sunday they’d bottomed out. No $95-105 for three days (plus Thursday night). No $125 for the whole weekend, more like $114.

And then Sunday deepened the dive. “Solo” finished three days with $83 million, and a healthy Monday (Why are they still expecting that?) could lift it to $101 million?

Let the wringing of hands begin. Did Disney kill the golden goose by overloading on “Star Wars” movies? Did the fact that this one plainly just isn’t very good, miscast, etc., hurt? Did viewers hear about the “troubled production” Ron Howard was brought in to fix?

Are audiences getting fatigued at more of the same-old/same-old from the Mouse and its Marvel  and LucasFilm Ltd. productions?

Yes, yes, yes and emphatically YES would be my guess. The “Deadpool 2” second weekend plunge suggests that all comic books and galaxies “far far away” are wearing out even the fanatics, and that the audience is outgrowing the repetitive piffle these movies have become. None of them have bombed, but over-familiarity is killing the sausage factory.

“Avengers” is still making money, but will it hold screens as long as “Black Panther?” “Deadpool” isn’t creating a vast expectation that “Yeah, we’re ready for the NEXT one,” even if it’s an “X-Force” R-rated action farce.

And “Star Wars” is way over-exposed, wrestled into new directions by J.J. Abrams and his acolytes, trying too hard to be younger and more diverse, when the stories and actors cast in them are lightweight and colorless, as in “bland.”

John Boyega? Daisy Ridley? Oscar Isaac? Alden Ehrenreich? Emilia Clarke? Donald Glover?

I am guessing they won’t learn from “Rogue One,” and fill the screen with experienced, Oscar nominated and experienced leads (Felicity Jones, Diego Luna) and surround them with Oscar winners and colorful genre veterans (Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen). “Rogue” wasn’t the big hit of this parade, it was just the best of the movies and the one that “holds up” as we say.

aldenEven a better-cast “Solo” would have underwhelmed, but Disney has saddled us with a bit player from the Coen Brothers Universe, and he’s not got it. Why even consider making another with Alden?

Meanwhile, “A Quiet Place,” far more original, with great actors and genuine suspense and pathos, rolls on. “Black Panther,” a big cultural twist on the Marvel formula, endures.

“Breaking In,” “Life of the Party,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “Book Club,” all show up with less risk, an under-served audience and low budgets, and make bank (none of them were great, but hey, they were generally surprising and different)

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