what potentially really exacerbated that issue was that we just saw Harrison actually play him not three years before. So I’m sure a lot of people didn’t feel the urgency when they just recently got their fix of Han Solo but featuring the genuine article.
I mentioned that very thing a while back. Two versions/castings of the same character so close together is a very tough sell in a fan base as volitile as Star Wars. Particularly when one of them is the iconic original.
Not helping matters at all was it coming only months after what may be the most polarizing film in the franchise. I think there was considerable fan backlash that transferred to a lack of attendance at the box office, possibly in protest. The film’s troubled production didn’t help either and it may have served to further alienate some fans’ anti-Disney thoughts. I think the box office results were a perfect storm of protest, anger, and apathy.
If they had gone with a less is more approach, they may have had a better result. There was too much going on and it almost made Han a secondary character in parts. Ki’ra could have been the McGuffin to get Han invested in bettering himself and one day returning, but without having her being such a main character. He comes back, she’d been killed long ago, or just no longer a part of that world, or she moved on without him. He then continues on in his life of crime, now energized with a fresh dose of pessimism about people in general.
Leave out a big-role Ki’ra, leave out Maul (eye roll), and end the film with a set-up of Han’s meeting and subsequent friendship with Lando as the second film. Leave audiences wanting more, not feeling exhausted from too much.
That was something Nolan did perfectly at the end of Batman Begins. Gordon tells Batman about a criminal who leaves a clue at every crime, hands him a joker playing card in an evidence bag, Batman says “thanks, I’ll check it out”, roll the credits. Simple, but enough to leave the audience speculating and interested in how they’ll meet and interact.