The Star Wars spin off Han Solo film is currently without a director, after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were dropped on Monday (June 19).
On Tuesday Kathleen Kennedy, head of Lucasfilm, released a statement saying: “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…..”
Lord and Miller released their own statement saying: “Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project ……. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”
The much-used ‘Creative Differences’ cliché appears to be entirely accurate in this case.
Lord and Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) are known for their comedic feel and improvisational directing style. Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark), who penned the Han Solo script with son Jon, favours a more strict adherence to the written word. Kennedy has taken the decision to stand by long-time colleague Kasdan and drop the directing duo.
It was also felt that the character of Han Solo would become too comedic in the hands of Lord and Miller. A studio insider commented, “People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish.”
The duo are rumoured to have found out they had been dropped on Monday, according to one source, though The Hollywood Reporter says that version of events is disputed. However, the creative differences are said to have been apparent back in February when filming started in London. Lord and Miller were hopeful that the differences could be worked through, but clearly that hasn’t happened. The two had relocated to London with their families for the duration of the shoot.
Lucasfilm have past experience of directorial clashes. Gareth Edwards was sidelined from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when Tony Gilroy was dropped in to rewrite and re-shoot large chunks of the movie only a few months before the release date.
Though Lucasfilm and Disney are keeping quiet, they are said to have a replacement for the Han Solo film in mind already. Rumours include Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Heart of the Sea) and Joe Johnston (Hidalgo, Captain America: The First Avenger). Other rumours have put Kasdan himself at the helm, though the Directors Guild of America have rules preventing someone already working on a film replacing a director except for short-term emergencies.
Johnston started out at Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas’s effects studio, as well as directing the first Captain America film, so he is a known quantity as far as both Lucasfilm and Disney are concerned. He also won an Academy Award for his effects work on Raiders, so he’s also worked closely with Kasdan. Observers might feel this gives him the edge in the directorial race.
Kasdan would, however, have the advantage of already knowing what the studio feels needs fixing. This would help in the changeover process which is necessarily lengthy.
Whoever the new director is, the production will have to be put on hold while he or she goes over the existing footage and decides on any re-shoots before filming can start up again. This puts a question mark over whether the movie will make its current release date of May 2018.
It is rumoured Lord and Miller might head over to Warner/DC’s The Flash, which is currently without a director.
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