Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the recently departed directors of the upcoming young Han Solo spinoff movie, were fired from the production after months of clashing with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Today’s development that the filmmakers are no longer on the project came as quite a shock, seeing that they had been conducting principal photography since February and had three weeks to go before wrapping. Though Star Wars fans were skeptical about the standalone (which sees Alden Ehrenreich follow the footsteps of Harrison Ford), many remained optimistic due to Lord and Miller’s established track record of taking bad ideas on-paper and turning them into entertaining films with heart and humor.
When the announcement first came out, the tried and true “creative differences” reasoning was given as the main culprit, but few details elaborated on that. Now, a new report has emerged revealing just how sour the relationship between Lord, Miller, Kennedy, and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan was during this troubled process.
Per Variety, their source claims “It was a culture clash from day one.” Apparently, Lord and Miller were surprised that they would not have the freedom they were used to on their earlier works while making Han Solo. Kennedy employed a “tight control” on set, and that obviously didn’t sit well with the directors. The producer was mostly unhappy with the directors’ shooting style and how they interacted with the cast and crew. Lord and Miller also didn’t see eye-to-eye with Kasdan, who disagreed with several of the pair’s choices while at the helm. Obviously, everyone was unable to get on the same page, and Lord and Miller were fired four months into production. It is currently unknown who will step in to complete Han Solo, but Tony Gilroy (who directed last year’s Rogue One reshoots) will not step in this time to save a Star Wars anthology film.
If true, this story is very alarming and will make many fans feel uneasy. On one hand, Kennedy and Kasdan are trusted names in Lucasfilm and have been responsible for several great blockbusters (including Star Wars films) over the years. However, this situation is without precedent and arguably isn’t a great look for the studio. Granted, creative differences between directors and executives are commonplace in the industry (look at the revolving door of Flash movie directors), but typically these issues are ironed out before the cameras start to roll. It’s troubling that there were problems from the start, yet Kennedy didn’t opt to make a drastic move until so late in the process. Additionally, Lord and Miller were hired for Han Solo in July 2015, so it seems odd that things would reach a boiling point now. Their filmmaking style is well-known now after 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie, so Kennedy theoretically should have been able to know early on they weren’t going to be the best fit.
The Star Wars anthology films are a big part of Lucasfilm’s longterm strategy, but the studio has had a difficult time finding the proper way to manage them. Last summer, the Rogue One reshoots drama went public as the final product was heavily altered under intense scrutiny, and now Han Solo lost its directors before filming finished. Fans were initially excited about the prospect of the spinoffs because they could play around with tone and genre while mixing in classic Star Wars elements. However, it seems like Lucasfilm is unsure of how “different” they want the standalones to be, and if the galaxy far, far away is going to thrive for a long time on-screen, they’ll need to figure out a plan sooner rather than later. At least viewers can still look forward to Star Wars: The Last Jedi this December.
KEY RELEASE DATES
Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi release date: Dec 15, 2017
Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film release date: May 25, 2018
Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX release date: May 24, 2019