We're remarkably close to the release of the next Star Wars movie, as Solo: A Star Wars Story is only four months away. However, I can't help but feel that a massive opportunity has been missed with the fact that Solo is releasing at the end of May instead of the beginning. May the Fourth, the unofficial, sort of official, Star Wars day (due to the fact that it has a phonetic similarity to "May the Force..."), actually falls on a Friday this year, which means it's a perfect movie release day. It would be understandable for Solo: A Star Wars Story to bow out if that date had already been staked out by another major release, and well, it has been. The thing is, that other major release is another Disney movie, Avengers: Infinity War. So why isn't the Han Solo movie coming out on May 4?
Releasing Solo: A Star Wars Story on May the Fourth seems like it would have been a no-brainer. The marketing could have used the date in its promotion as a way to drill the release date into the heads of everybody. By the end of it all, nobody would have been able to forget when the movie was coming out.
And the thing is, Solo could probably use the help. Star Wars: The Last Jedi made a lot of money, but it didn't do so without taking some shots from some Star Wars fans who didn't care for various aspects of the film. While it's difficult to tell just how big the fan backlash really is, if there are people who are thinking twice about the future of Star Wars, Solo could deal with the bulk of the brunt of those feelings.
Add to that the fact that Solo: A Star Wars Story hasn't exactly made it through its own production unscathed, and the film may be starting out in the most questionable position since Attack of the Clones had to follow the lukewarm fan response to The Phantom Menace. The movie replaced its directors in the middle of filming, a move that is nearly unheard of in the movie business. We're sitting here just four months out from the film's release and we don't have so much as a promotional image of Alden Ehrenreich holding a blaster, much less a trailer for the movie.
These issues could potentially have been and could still be overcome with some really spot-on marketing. However, if Disney really needed to get people hyped up about seeing a new Star Wars movie, May the Fourth would have been a prime way to do it. Whether or not the movie turns out well, diehard fans would have shown up in droves to see Solo: A Star Wars Story that day.
It's absolutely true that Avengers: Infinity War received its release date first, several months ahead of the official announcement of Solo: A Star Wars Story, but it's not like Disney hasn't needed to shuffle around release dates before. One of the benefits of being Disney is that the studio has the ability to move around multiple franchises under multiple internal studios to meet whatever needs the larger company has. Back when Star Wars: The Last Jedi got pushed out of its original May release date, Disney filled that spot with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. When the same thing recently happened to Star Wars: Episode IX, the spot was taken by the live-action remake of Aladdin. The live-action Lion King movie currently has a release date that had previously been given to Indiana Jones 5. Disney plays this game every day, so why didn't the studio swap these two movies?
Part of the reason might be practical, or at least it likely is now. Solo: A Star Wars Story has had issues behind the scenes that pushed filming on for months longer than planned; despite this, the release date never moved. There's a decent chance that the team editing Solo will be sleeping at their desks on May the Fourth in order to make sure the film is ready for release by the 25th of May, 2018.
It's also likely that the current release date is being held because it also is an important Star Wars day. May 25, 2018 will be 41 years to the day that the world was first introduced to Han Solo with the release of the original Star Wars. For major Star Wars fans, May 25 may be the real Star Wars Day. However, not everyone is a major Star Wars fan.
Here's the thing, while many Star Wars fans know that May 25 is a big deal day, your average film fan -- even your average Star Wars fan -- doesn't. They do, however, likely know May the Fourth, as the internet has made that Star Wars day blow up. Those are the people who are going to make or break Solo, and they're the ones who Disney might have been able to talk into showing up that very first weekend by making the film's release feel special. If it was the 40th anniversary of Star Wars you might have an argument, but the 41st? Does anybody care? It's clear that Lucasfilm wants that late May release window, considering all the recent Star Wars movies that were originally scheduled there, but if this is the one movie that's not going to be pushed back, then I personally wish it had been pushed up.
At this point, it's barely possible that if Solo would actually be ready by May the 4th that these dates could still be swapped. Avengers: Infinity War already has a trailer, and people know when that movie is coming. As unlikely as it is, the marketing buzz that would come with the movie being released early, and on May the 4th, would probably only help the bottom line. In the end, it may not make a huge difference, but if you're going to spend May the Fourth at a movie theater anyway, wouldn't you rather be watching a Star Wars movie?