More details have emerged about the situation that led to Phil Lord and Chris Miller's surprising firing from the young Han Solo movie earlier this week. The duo had been hired for the job nearly two years ago and were close to wrapping principal photography when they departed the project. In an effort to pick up the pieces quickly and keep Han Solo on track for its scheduled May 2018 release date, Lucasfilm announced Ron Howard will step in to call the shots, with filming resuming in July. Howard's first job as director is to meet with the actors and review what's been already shot to determine the best course of action.
Though the spinoff is moving forward, many are still wondering about what caused the falling out between the LEGO Movie helmsmen and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Reports of pesky "creative differences" and a tightly controlled set have already made their way online, and now more information has come out. Apparently, Lord and Miller's comedic sensibilities and improvisational style of filmmaking were the roots of the problem.
According to EW, there was some confusion between the parties as to what the proper approach should be for Han Solo. Lord and Miller were under the impression they were hired to direct a comedy set in the Star Wars universe, while Lucasfilm envisioned a more "grounded" space opera with comedic bits - like the original trilogy. During production, Lord and Miller also started to go off-script and encouraged the actors (including creative types like Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge) to improvise during filming. These changes allegedly impacted the original story as conceived, and the studio believed "the directors had a responsibility to tell the story as written." The directors and Kennedy had different ideas for what was best for Han Solo. Once the dailies came in, it was apparent everyone didn't see eye-to-eye. Additionally, Star Wars News Net heard star Alden Ehrenreich addressed his own concerns about the way things were going during shooting.
Falling outs between filmmakers and executives in charge of massive Hollywood franchises happen all the time, but typically those issues are ironed out before four months of filming are complete. If this is true, these revelations do not make the curious case of Han Solo any less baffling. The tone and style of the movie are usually agreed upon early on, and Lord and Miller's irreverent sensibilities have been well-established thanks to their prior works. It's puzzling that Lucasfilm allowed things to get this far before making a change. From the sound of things, they weren't up front about their expectations for Han Solo early on (though, that's difficult to say for sure), but there was obviously some severe miscommunication along the way.
The Han Solo situation is just the latest illustration of the tricky balance these tentpoles must strike. There needs to be some kind of compromise between all parties involved (and it looks like here there was none), where the directors are allowed some creative control while maintaining the overall vision of the property the producers have. Disney's Star Wars renaissance has been successful so far, but some are concerned about how the second anthology movie will turn out after this near-unprecedented turn of events. Time will tell, and ideally Han Solo will be just fine in the end.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019