Academy Award winning director Ron Howard has officially stepped in to complete the young Han Solo spinoff movie for Lucasfilm. In a surprising turn of events, original helmsmen Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired earlier this week after clashing with producer Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. Since the film remains on track for a May 2018 release, the studio was under pressure to find a replacement soon in order to maintain the schedule. They wasted no time finding a new captain for the Millennium Falcon, and now the creative team will get to work on getting the project across the finish line.

Howard was one of the first names to pop up as a possible candidate in the wake of Lord and Miller’s departure, with Joe Johnston and Kasdan also being considered. The veteran Star Wars writer was ineligible to step in due to Directors Guild regulations, so Lucasfilm had no choice but to look to the outside for help. Howard is now on board to make the second Star Wars anthology film.

Lucasfilm made the announcement today on StarWars.com. Per THR, Howard will now travel to the set to meet with the principal cast – including Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, and Woody Harrelson – to calm things down and review a first cut to determine what needs to be done to finish Han Solo. According to Kennedy, filming will resume on July 10. Prior to Lord and Miller’s dismissal, there were three-and-a-half weeks left of principal photography and five weeks of standard reshoots. You can read Kennedy’s statement below:

“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. 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.”

Alden Ehrenreich and Harrison Ford as Han Solo Ron Howard to Finish Han Solo Movie

It will be interesting to see how fans react to this news. Howard is obviously a distinct change in style from the irreverent nature of Lord and Miller and could be perceived as a “safe” choice for viewers who were hoping Han Solo could be something more out-of-the-box. There’s also the matter that some of Howard’s most recent directorial efforts, like Inferno and In the Heart of the Sea, disappointed critically and commercially. On the other hand, he has demonstrated much talent throughout his career, calling the shots on acclaimed dramas such as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind (among others). Howard certainly possesses the ability to make a quality film, and his history as an actors’ director should ensure the rest of production goes smoothly.

Interestingly enough, this is not Howard’s first rodeo with Lucasfilm. Nearly two decades ago, he was approached by George Lucas to direct The Phantom Menace, but passed on the opportunity. Now, the galaxy far, far away comes calling to the former Richie Cunningham again, and he’ll be under intense scrutiny to make Han Solo as strong as it can be. Moviegoers were already skeptical of a Solo-centric prequel, and are now even more dubious. This’ll be a change-of-pace for Howard, but hopefully he’s up for the challenge.

MORE: Does Lucasfilm Need New Leadership?

Source: THR, Lucasfilm

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