Star Wars movies are coming at us fast.
When Disney decided to purchase one of the most famous franchises of all time from creator George Lucas, they had already mapped out a future universe.
But the fourth entry into the new Disney universe, the untitled Star Wars Han Solo project featuring a young Han played by Alden Ehrenreich, was just put on hold.
Former Steven Spielberg producer, Kathleen Kennedy, is the President of Lucasfilm and she has been spearheading the new Star Wars universe.
But apparently the film’s co-directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, had creative differences with Kennedy that neither party was willing to compromise on.
Entertainment Weekly reports:
The question remained for Star Wars fans: What exactly were those differences, and why were they so insurmountable that neither side was willing to compromise to avoid this public upheaval?
Here’s what we know now: Several sources close to the movie and others close to the directors tell EW that ever since filming began back in February, Lord and Miller, who are known primarily for wry, self-referential comedies like 21 Jump Street and the pilot episodes for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth, began steering the Han Solo movie more into the genre of laughs than space fantasy.
Apparently, the split was a subtle one that became magnified over time: Lucasfilm and producer Kennedy believed Lord and Miller were hired to add a comedic touch; Lord and Miller believed they were hired to make a comedy.
It’s an ironic turn. Last year, when Rogue One was undergoing reshoots, fans were critical because they assumed Lucasfilm was trying to ‘lighten’ the war story with more comedy.
Those concerns were unfounded, but now the opposite may be the case for the Han Solo film: Lucasfilm wants young Han Solo to be more grounded.
As usual with stories like this, not all sources agree. Another individual close to the movie says it wasn’t a question about how much comedy would be in the film.
The consensus, however, is that the filmmakers were encouraging significant improvisation from the actors, which some at Lucasfilm believed was shifting the story off-course.
With actors who are also writers, and gifted at coming up with their own material, like Atlanta creator and star Donald Glover in the role of Lando Calrissian and Fleabag creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge as an unspecified motion-capture character (which in galactic terms, that usually signals a droid or alien), the sources say Lord and Miller began straying from the script by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jon Kasdan (The First Time).
One person close to the fired directors says: “They thought they were brought on to make a Phil and Chris movie. … Sometimes they just thought the actors could do it differently.”
But others on the project say they pushed too far. It wasn’t just a question of tone. The variations added up to significantly change the story.
They may have been brought aboard to give young Han Solo a wiseacre vibe and an irreverent style, but Lucasfilm still felt the directors had a responsibility to tell the story as written.
When dailies began rolling in featuring improvisation from the actors and new ideas from the directors that significantly parted ways with the script, the relationship with the home office at Lucasfilm became fraught.
As principal photography for the movie approached its end, it became clear that the filmmakers and producers did not share the same vision for some critical scenes.
Reshoots were always possible (they are factored into almost every major film these days, and each new Star Wars project has undergone them), but as Lord and Miller dug in, refusing to compromise on what they saw as best for the film, the partnership went from strained to fractured.
If they wouldn’t do the scenes as Lucasfilm and Kennedy wanted them now, why would they do them that way during reshoots?
Sources close to the studio tell EW that Kennedy was also determined to do what was best for the film. Those perspectives were just different — and growing further apart.
But Lord’s and Miller’s careers are not in jeopardy because they left the project over creative differences, and not because the production spiraled out of control.
Spiraling out of control is something that happened to director Josh Trank on 2015’s Fantastic Four where he also publicly bashed Fox and the film’s producers for messing up his movie.
And Trank’s career suddenly ended after that move.
Thankfully, Kennedy acts fast because the untitled Han Solo movie already has a new director.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
Ron Howard will take over directing the untitled Han Solo spinoff movie for Lucasfilm and Disney after the surprising news earlier this week that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were leaving the project already well into production.
Hollywood trade papers first published the news of Howard’s hiring Thursday morning, with an official statement posted shortly after at starwars.com.
The Oscar-winning director and producer emerged almost immediately as the name most mentioned for the job.
“At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago,” Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said in the statement.
“With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July.”
Since the film was almost completed in principal photography, it’s unclear who will get most of the credit. But Ron Howard is a seasoned pro, and none of this should affect the release date of the movie.