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Disney slashes forecast for "Solo" as early ticket sales sag

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Walt Disney 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.

[LOS ANGELES] Walt Disney 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 US and Canadian theaters are likely to total US$105 million to US$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 US$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 per cent 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 US$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 US$11.4 million from 43 markets, Disney said Friday. But in China, the movie looked set to earn just US$10 million over the weekend, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The only major market not opening this weekend is Japan.

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