Cast of Star Wars Han Solo Spinoff

Disney Fires Han Solo Directors With 3 Weeks Left in Filming. What Now?

Han Solo Star Wars Spin-off

UPDATE 6/22/2017: RON HOWARD HAS OFFICIALLY SIGNED ON TO TAKE OVER DIRECTING THE FILM AND IT LOOKS LIKE SIGNIFICANT RESHOOTS ARE COMING.

Recently, I wrote an article urging Disney to keep Star Wars at Christmas release dates.  The changeover was to begin with next year’s Han Solo spin-off being released in May 2018 (click here to read that article).  It looks like that’s a given, at least for Han Solo as the entire project has been thrown into upheaval following the announcement that Disney had fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) from the project just three weeks before the completion of principal photography.  Directors leaving a project before a film begins isn’t uncommon.  Directors leaving during a project is a huge deal.  Directors, who seemed absolutely perfect for this sort of film, being fired three weeks before they finished their cut is astounding.  I have never seen directors removed this late in the process.  While Disney scrambles to find a replacement, fans are freaking out on Twitter, and the entire future of the project seems in doubt.

Phil Lord and Chris MillerTwo statements were released after the firing: one from Lord & Miller and one from Lucasfilm.  From Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy:
“Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon.”

From Lord & Miller:
“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”

Lawrence Kasdan

So the immediate question that springs to mind is: what kind of creative differences cause a blow-up this late in the game?  The answer seems to be Lord and Taylor viewed Solo as a more comedic character than did Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens, and Han Solo screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.  The pair apparently were constantly clashing with Kasdan, and Kasdan carries a lot more clout with Lucasfilm.  Geek Tyrant is reporting:
The friction was felt almost immediately when the movie began shooting in February, sources say, but the directors always thought it could be worked through. Kennedy, the producer and head of Lucasfilm, decided to back her lifelong colleague, who shaped much of Solo’s character in Empire and ‪Return of the Jedi and who had a specific tone in mind for the new movie. The duo also didn’t feel they had the support of producer Allison Shearmur, who was acting as Lucasfilm’s representative on the London set.

Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian

So what happens now?  If Lucasfilm was this unhappy with what had been shot, clearly reshoots that might dwarf the ones Rogue One went through are in the future for whatever new director comes onboard.  Early names being tossed around are Ron Howard, Joe Johnston, and even Kasdan himself (though Kasdan’s directing credits are nowhere near the pedigree of his writing).  Fans on Twitter are championing cast member Donald Glover, who is playing a young Lando Calrissian in the film, as Glover knows the project, the material, and has directed several episodes of his award-winning FX show Atlanta.  The 34-year-old has never directed a feature film; however, and this is going to take a massive effort to correct.  There is also large fan outcry that no one but Harrison Ford ever play Han Solo, and that the whole project should now be canceled.  That’s just not going to happen.  Disney will reshoot the entire film before eating the investment.

Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo

Here’s what is going to happen: the film’s May 2018 release is gone.  Disney has Mary Poppins 2 in the holiday 2018 slot currently; I’d look for that to be moved up to Thanksgiving or even earlier and Han Solo kicked back to December 2018.  Thus far, Disney’s tenure has been marked by impeccable quality.  They’re not going to rush anything out to meet a release date.  Both Episodes VII and VIII were delayed from summer to Christmas to make sure they were ready, and we can expect the same.

Whomever Disney does appoint, it’s going to be someone who better be prepared to have an unofficial co-director in Lawrence Kasdan (if it isn’t Kasdan himself), and be ready to shoot Kasdan’s screenplay like it was Biblical writ.  What’s puzzling is that Lucasfilm let this drag on so long before making the change.  With Rogue One having to undergo huge reshoots to meet Disney’s quality standards for Star Wars, you have to wonder if there’s anything shot that is going to survive?  The third spin-off (for 2020) was supposed to have been announced this month.  I hope when it is, Lucasfilm has learned something from the growing pains of the first two anthology films.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

 

16 thoughts on “Disney Fires Han Solo Directors With 3 Weeks Left in Filming. What Now?”

  1. For the love of god Disney needs to let go of the past. I know that Kasdan wants what is best for the character, and I’m sure he is intent on honoring the traditions of the franchise, but it is time to break with tradition, in the standalones at least. I was mainly excited because of Lord and Miller. Without those fresh, fun directors interjecting humor and irreverence, a Han Solo movie is not such a hot idea, and Disney should have gone with a movie that grew the universe instead.

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    1. If there’s ever been a director shift this late in a high profile film, I am drawing a blank. I suppose you could draw a comparison to Justice League but that was a transition, this is a total shift. Ron Howard is apparently the front runner, but he’s been in a rut for over a decade and this is clearly Kasdans film. I hope Kennedy and the board can Rogue One this back on track but trying to keep that release date would be idiotic. You also have to wonder about cast morale. It’s a wonder this stayed quiet until it exploded. It looks like Lord and Miller are taking over The Flash so another win for the DCEU but I am genuinely worried about Solo now.

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      1. They will not get a high profile director, because no one of any stature will want to get ordered around. And Kasdan needs to be kept away from directing, he has directed a few good films but the rest are middling to downright bad, and if he was second guessing Lord and Miller on the technical side of filmmaking, not so great.

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      2. Howard would really have to put his ego aside. Also there was a time when I would have been sure we would have gotten a film that was approriatley lighthearted, boyant and fun, but these days I have no idea what on earth we would get from Howard.

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      3. Ok I’m going to put your mind at ease because now that I have had some time to reflect here is what I think. The film will obviously not be the lord and miller film we were hoping for, but it will not be a disaster either. The only explanation for why Disney let it drag on is that the studio, and Kasdan, must have been getting thier way. I don’t know why Lord and Miller stayed on. Maybe they felt an obligation to the actors. Maybe they just plain love SW. But leaving 3 weeks before shooting was over was the two of them directing an obscene gesture at Disney.

        We will get Kasdan’s vision, and it will be perfectly entertaining, just not the film it Would have been great to see.

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      4. Well, the thing is, before shooting, Kasdan said THIS was the best Star Wars script he’d ever written, which is saying a lot. It’s going to be interesting to see how it’s handled.

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      5. I somehow missed that he said that! I guess people in Hollywood say a lot of things, but still it makes me feel better. He is the last of the SW stewards, after all.

        I think a lot, if not most, of the footage that has been shot will be in the finished film. Hollywood defies logic sometimes, but it is not the small Northwestern town of Twin Peaks. You don’t let a production drag on to the last three weeks unless you’re satisfied with the footage.

        I would not be surprised if there was not some personal behind the scenes acrimony that had nothing to do with the strictly creative end of things.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Howard has officially signed on and it sounds from the continuing story coming out that significant reshoots are coming. I hope they don’t do something stupid like try to keep that May slot.

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      7. He might need this, but lately his films have been dismal. And if HS is the first Disney SW movie to disappoint, people notice Howard more than when he makes In the Heart of the Sea. And there is so much more at stake.

        Even if that were not true, Howard is a part of the old crew from the 1980’s, the Lucas-Spielberg school of thought, and while I would love to see that recaptured, it won’t be, and it’s time to move on.

        With Howard on board they’ll obviously have to reshoot soooo much, so I take back what I said before. Disney had better move this back to a December date, pronto, because it will need no competition to recoup its budget.

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      8. Eh, it will be. I did not mean to say “recoup its budget” in my previous commment, I just meant it will be hard for it to be as profitable as Disney wants if they have to reshoot most of it. Star Wars is going strong after 40 years, it survived the acrimony of the prequels, Alden is waiting in the wings right now, waiting to break free, and people will flock to HS no matter how the diehards feel. Only a truly horrible film will keep people away.

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