Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story efforts appear to have impressed Lucasfilm, as they've had him reshoot more of the movie than initially planned. Serving as the second Star Wars spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story has seen a seemingly chaotic behind the scenes situation after the sudden firing of previous directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, but this most recent news suggests that things may be far more under control than they appear.
The initial shock of Lord & Miller's departure wasn't so much due to the fact that they were fired. Directors are fired all the time. The Star Wars franchise under Disney has seen it happen a number of times with Josh Trank's departure from the presumed Boba Fett movie and Colin Trevorrow being removed from Episode IX, but its also been seen with a number of other properties like Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or Michelle MacLaren leaving Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe, just to cite a few. The clear difference between these projects is that Solo: A Star Wars Story only had a few weeks of shooting left, whereas all the other examples happened during pre-production.
Even Justice League's situation was different. Zack Snyder had to step down after the completion of principal photography and Joss Whedon led the rewrites, reshoots, and changes that happened after the fact. While Ron Howard came in to alter the tone from the overly comedic take of L&M, the difference is that Howard's changes are serving the original intent of Lawrence Kasdan's Han Solo script. The typical problem with major blockbuster reshoots is that they accompany some sort of rewrites and the end product is some kind of Frankenstein. While that outcome can't be entirely ruled out for Solo just yet, the fact that the script was completed before shooting started and the firing of Lord & Miller happened because they deviated too far from the script suggests that, whatever the final product is, it's serving a good story, not having the story slashed apart and stitched back together in post-production as happens in most reshoot horror stories.
This account is corroborated by Paul Bettany, who played a character in Ron Howard's reshoots. Speaking recently with Total Film, Bettany heaped praise on Howard:
"His staging ability is so fucking brilliant, I think he went in and he was like a laser, working out what needed to be done when he looked at the footage. And then, as things moved on, everybody felt so secure with him. And they gave him more. He reshot a lot more than was originally intended."
Shortly after Ron Howard came on, he said most of the existing footage was "very usable," so it was a little surprising to see production stretch on for so long, leading us to speculate that a majority of Lord & Miller's footage had been replaced, and that seems to be the case, as the reported Ron Howard reshoots seem to encompass 80% of the movie. The interesting angle here is that the reshoots aren't due to unusable footage from Lord & Miller, but because "everybody felt so secure" with what Ron Howard was doing, asking him to do even more, which should be taken as a sign of confidence in Ron Howard's work.
Fans still don't know what to expect, because marketing hasn't even kicked off yet, but that shouldn't be a cause for concern. Avengers: Infinity War only just released its first trailer. The massive MCU movie's release date is only a few weeks before Solo, so Lucasfilm is hardly too late to begin marketing Solo: A Star Wars Story in January.
Separated from the drama, Solo has a lot going for it, from a script by Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark writer Lawrence Kasdan to a stellar cast including Thandie Newton, Emilia Clarke, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Donald Glover, Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, and Paul Bettany. Add in Bradford Young, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer from Arrival, and Ron Howard's veteran directing talents, and Solo: A Star Wars Story certainly has a lot going for it.
- 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: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019