After a lengthy search that saw more than 2,500 actors audition, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller recently found the lead for their upcoming young Han Solo Star Wars anthology film. Though it was reported back in May that Hail, Caesar! standout Alden Ehrenreich was cast in the role, Lucasfilm didn't confirm the news until their Star Wars Celebration 2016 event earlier this month. The actor was actually the first one the filmmakers tested, and he's excited by the prospect of being a part of a massive franchise.
Details about Han Solo are hard to come by right now, but the movie has been described as an "origin story" for the smuggler and his best friend Chewbacca. It would appear that Lord and Miller's installment is meant to be the launching point for a full series of films featuring Ehrenreich's take on the scruffy-looking nerf herder, as a new rumor indicates that the thespian is locked in to a multi-picture contract.
According to the New York Daily News, Disney has signed Ehrenreich to a three movie contract. Their source says that "there is a real sense of excitement around the Han Solo movie and its potential." Given that Han's early adventures do not have to be tied to the Galactic Civil War, Lucasfilm sees this as a golden opportunity to explore new corners of the galaxy far, far away and give fans a fresh spin on the property with all-new storylines and characters.
It wouldn't be surprising if this was the case. Disney wants to release a new Star Wars movie annually for the foreseeable future, alternating the standalone anthology projects with the traditional numbered episodes of the Skywalker family saga. To date, only two spinoffs (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Han Solo) have been officially announced. There has been much speculation as to what the third one would entail (Obi-Wan Kenobi has been a popular theory), but the studio has been mum on the subject. Han Solo is one of the most beloved characters Lucasfilm has at their disposal, so if Ehrenreich's version is well-received, they would obviously be interested in making more films with him.
Though some fans may be wary of a "prequel trilogy" starring Ehrenreich, this would actually be a great way to examine the criminal underworld of the Star Wars universe in a way that appeals to both longtime fans and casual moviegoers. Han and Chewie had been through a lot before they met Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan at the Mos Eisley Cantina, and their time working with Jabba the Hutt could make for an entertaining movie. Future Han Solo spinoffs could also bring back fan-favorites like Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian, fleshing out those characters to compliment what's shown in the original trilogy. There are many ways Lucasfilm could go with this, and it'll be interesting to see what happens.
Of course, it's important to remember that an actor signing a multi-picture contract does not necessarily guarantee that multiple feature films will happen. This has just become a standard business practice in Hollywood, providing the studio with security in the event that sequels are warranted. With talent in front of and behind the camera for Han Solo, it's highly possible that this is another big hit for Disney/Lucasfilm and Ehrenreich becomes one of the faces of the franchise. Some fans may still not be sold on someone other than Harrison Ford playing the character, but as Star Trek's Kelvin Timeline has shown, it's possible for new actors to do established roles justice. It's worth giving everyone a chance to prove themselves.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IXin 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: New York Daily News