‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ struggles to take off in opening weekend

Analysts had predicted the Disney/Lucasfilm project would reach $130 million to $150 million, possibly setting a Memorial Day weekend record. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2018
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‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ struggles to take off in opening weekend

LOS ANGELES: “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the latest prequel in the hugely popular film franchise, struggled to achieve escape velocity this holiday weekend, with an estimated $101 million four-day take falling far below expectations.
Analysts had predicted the Disney/Lucasfilm project — directed by Ron Howard and with Alden Ehrenreich as a young version of the swashbuckling Han Solo — would reach $130 million to $150 million, possibly setting a Memorial Day weekend record.
But the film, with a cast including Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke, was falling short not only in North America, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations predicted, but also abroad.
“The news is grim overseas,” said Hollywood Reporter, saying the film was heading for barely half the $300 million global take many had predicted.
Last weekend’s No. 1 film, “Deadpool 2” from 20th Century Fox and Marvel, took second spot this weekend, with a four-day estimate of $53.5 million.
That movie stars Ryan Reynolds as the foul-mouthed, irreverent title character as he forms an X-Force team to protect a young mutant from evil Cable (Josh Brolin).
Third place went to Disney/Marvel collaboration “Avengers: Infinity War,” which took in $20.1 million in its fifth weekend out. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth.
In fourth, with $12 million in ticket sales, was a movie featuring no superheroes or interplanetary battles, and with a sedate sounding title — “Book Club” — that belies its racy story line.
The Paramount film tells the story of four aging friends — Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen — who decide to read the steamy book “Fifty Shades of Grey” and find it stimulating more than just their intellects.
And in fifth was Warner Bros. comedy “Life of the Party,” at $6.5 million. It stars Melissa McCarthy as a newly divorced mother who returns to college, only to find herself in class with her (deeply embarrassed) daughter.


Book Review: ‘It’s the thought of Makkah that keeps me alive’

Updated 20 August 2018
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Book Review: ‘It’s the thought of Makkah that keeps me alive’

  • Paulo Coelho’s novel highlights merchant’s powerful narrative about the pilgrimage
  • Coelho has a Guinness World Record for the most translated book by any living author

JEDDAH: One of the famous books that refers to the Islamic pillar of Hajj is “The Alchemist,” a novel by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho that has been translated into more than 80 languages and sold more than 30 million copies.

The novel highlights the Hajj dream when a young shepherd, Santiago, working for a crystal shop owner tells his employer about his desire to visit the pyramids, which leaves the latter asking why the young boy was so determined about to see the pyramids.

“You’ve never had dreams of travel,” the shepherd boy tells the shop owner in Tangier, the Moroccan city that used to be a part of Al-Andalus until 1062.

The crystal merchant had never thought of traveling, except for Hajj — traveling to Makkah had long been his dream and only thought.

However, the merchant explains to the boy that he lives by the book of Qur’an, and that Islam has five pillars which are mandatory for Muslims to fulfill.

After explaining the first four pillars, the merchant suddenly stops with tears in his eyes. So the boy asks him about the fifth obligation.

The merchant answers: “Two days ago, you said that I had never dreamed of travel. The fifth obligation of every Muslim is a pilgrimage. We are obligated at least once in our lives to visit the holy city of Makkah.

“When I was young, all I wanted to do was to put together enough money to start this shop. I thought someday I’d be rich, and could visit Makkah.”

The merchant refers to those who pass by his shop on their way to Makkah, and to those pilgrims who have performed Hajj and are proudly showing that off on their house doors.

However, when Santiago asks the merchant why he never made the trip and fulfilled his dream, he answers that if he did, he would no longer have anything to live for.

“Because it’s the thought of Makkah that keeps me alive.

“I’ve already imagined a thousand times crossing the desert, arriving at the Plaza of the Sacred Stone, the seventh time I walk around it before allowing myself to touch it. I’ve already imagined the people who would be at my side, and those in front of me.”

Meanwhile, the merchant’s business grows after he agrees to Santiago’s suggestion to sell tea. The tea becomes popular in the town and the merchant hires more staff.

As a result of the shop’s success, Santiago also becomes rich and decides that it is time for him to leave.

One day he wakes early and tells the merchant about his decision to leave and buy a large flock of sheep.

Santiago encourages the merchant to travel to Makkah. However, the merchant believes that he will not go to Makkah because it is “maktub,” which means “it is written,” as his destiny.

Coelho has a Guinness World Record for the most translated book by any living author.