Ron Howard says a social media trolling campaign caused Solo: A Star Wars Story to fail at the box office, saying on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that while he noticed “pushback” after the previous Star Wars franchise entry (The Last Jedi), he felt “aggressive trolling” damaged the film’s commercial potential.
Solo: A Star Wars Story director Ron Howard has blamed internet trolls for damaging the film’s box office potential. The action-adventure spin-off, which New Yorker critic Richard Brody said “shamelessly recycled cliches” and Matthew Lickona of the San Diego Reader called a “joyless slog“, failed commercially because of “aggressive trolling” on the internet according to its director.
Howard was speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast when he said he noticed “pushback” from the previous Star Wars film, but felt “aggressive trolling” was a crucial factor in Solo: A Star Wars Story’s disappointing box office.
“It was pretty interesting. 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’ [score on Rotten Tomatoes] and on the fan voting.”
With Rogue One, the previous spin-off movie taking a huge $1.06 billion at the global box office, Solo’s comparatively paltry $393 million was quite rightly seen as a significant failure. Critic Peter Gray felt a reason for this is that the film relies on “nostalgia and good faith rather than telling a story that brings new ingredients to the recipe.”
Industry commentators put its failure down to “franchise fatigue”. That was echoed by Disney CEO Bob Iger who admitted it was a mistake to release Solo so close to The Last Jedi (just six months part).
Howard isn’t alone in thinking trolling campaigns have harmed commercial success. Rotten Tomatoes has been targeted before with The Last Jedi, Black Panther and Ghostbusters all seeing trolls trying to lower their aggregate scores. This year, Rotten Tomatoes tried to redress the balance by adjusting its site rules after a huge swathe of negative comments for Captain Marvel, prior to its release.