It's All About The Script
Of all the new Star Wars films Lucasfilm has announced since being acquired by Disney, Solo is the one that generated the least-enthusiastic response. Even when Lord and Miller (kings of turning bad ideas into gold) were in charge, many questioned the necessity for this film. On-paper, it definitely seems strange. It's a prequel detailing the mysterious backstory of a beloved original trilogy character (sound familiar?) that was forced to recast Han Solo due to the timing of the project. Harrison Ford is synonymous with the character, perfectly embodying the smuggler over four films. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Solo has an ace in the hole with its script.
The screenplay was written by Kasdan (pictured above) and his son Jon. The elder Kasdan is responsible for penning three of the better entries in the franchise: Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Force Awakens. He also wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, so he knows how to craft an entertaining tentpole that connects on an emotional level. Additionally, Kasdan is typically smart about the way he tackles his material. Empire set a new bar for Star Wars with an unexpected sequel that challenged its characters and broadened the universe in exciting ways. In Force Awakens, we meet Han as a struggling swindler in debt who failed at marriage and being a father. It could have been easy to deify the Rebellion General, but Kasdan found a much more interesting portrayal. Odds are, there will be some curveballs in Solo to make it more fascinating than some might have thought. Several members of the Lucasfilm family have praised Kasdan's latest.
Shortly after The Last Jedi opened and became the most polarizing tentpole this side of Batman V Superman, a report emerged suggesting Disney was preparing for Solo to bomb, the script was unworkable, and star Alden Ehrenreich can't act. More on Ehrenreich in a moment, but let's first address the notion Disney is worried Solo is going to flop. That unsubstantiated claim came from a single anonymous source stating they were "close to the film's production," which raises questions about its validity. It so far is the only bit of news explicitly forecasting doom and gloom for Solo (other op-eds have emerged raising doubts, but stop short of projecting failure). It's also in direct contradiction to more official comments on the matter.
Other insiders have heard studio heads are happy with the way Howard's first cut turned out. This shouldn't come as any surprise, seeing that Lucasfilm gave their new director more to do when they became impressed with his approach. He essentially oversaw a second round of principal photography, reshooting nearly the entire movie for double the budget. If the higher-ups were concerned Solo was going to underwhelm financially, there's no way they would have intentionally gone through these headaches to get the spinoff made. They're obviously excited about its potential and believe it will be a box office hit, ultimately turning a profit. Solo may be the lowest-earning Star Wars movie of the Disney era, but it should still be commercially viable. Reaction to footage promises an old school adventure flick in the classic Star Wars mold, which is just what the doctor ordered.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019