On Tuesday night Lucasfilm announced on StarWars.com that it made a directing change for its untitled Han Solo movie, parting ways with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller due to “creative differences,” though there were only a few weeks left of principal photography.
The move is an unprecedented one in the history of Hollywood, as one of the landmark franchises in the business is now scrambling to complete one of its most anticipated standalone movies.
The announcement also states that the movie, which is still untitled, remains slated for release in May of 2018.
Since that initial news broke, there have been numerous reports about what led to the split, including one which reveals that Lord and Miller (“The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street” and sequel) were fired from the project by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy.
Here’s a rundown of what led to that decision and who may be hired to finish the movie:
The untitled young Han Solo movie -- starring Alden Ehrenreich as the iconic space smuggler that Harrison Ford played in the original movies, Donald Glover as Solo's friend Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Michael K. Williams -- has been shooting in London since February and only had several weeks left of principal photography when news hit that directors Lord and Miller would be leaving the project.
'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,' Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said in a statement that appeared on StarWars.com on Tuesday.
'Unfortunately, our vision and process weren't aligned with our partners on this project,' Lord and Miller said in the same statement. '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.'
Both sides were saying the right things, but digging deeper it seems there was a lot of friction on set.
The directors did not leave the project voluntarily, but were fired by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, according to Variety. The move followed months of conflict between Kennedy, who is also one of the producers on the movie, and the directors.
Sources told Variety that even though Lord and Miller felt they had made their bones in the business after helming ambitious movies like 'The Lego Movie' and '21 Jump Street' and deserved some creative freedom, it turned out making a 'Star Wars' movie meant being under the control of Kennedy.
The two were constantly criticised for the the style in which they shot scenes and their interaction with their stars.
'It was a culture clash from day one,' a source told Variety. 'She didn't even like the way they folded their socks.'
The way they worked even got under the skin of the movie's screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan, who has been part of the 'Star Wars' family going back to when he penned 'The Empire Strikes Back.'
Lord and Miller were informed there would be several weeks of reshoots done later in the summer, a move that 'Rogue One' director Gareth Edwards had to endure. The reshoots would have likely included Kennedy bringing on her own trusted behind-the-scenes talent to help Lord and Miller shape their story to feel more like a 'Star Wars' movie, like what Edwards agreed to when Tony Gilroy came on to direct the reshoots of 'Rogue One'. This likely led to more friction between the directors and Kennedy, according to Variety, which culminated with Kennedy firing the pair.
Kathleen Kennedy said that an announcement about who will replace Lord and Miller is coming shortly. It's hard to imagine she hasn't already signed on a replacement. Deadline reports that Oscar-winning director Ron Howard is the frontrunner.
Howard is a veteran director known for movies like 'Apollo 13' and 'A Beautiful Mind.' Though he's never made a movie of this size, all Kennedy really needs is someone who can keep the ship afloat until production wraps. It seems she has enough people who will contribute the creative portions needed.
Other possibles to take the director's chair are Kasdan and Joe Johnston ('Captain America: The First Avenger,' he also did visual effects on the original 'Star Wars' prequels).
We certainly haven't heard the last of Miller and Lord.
The duo had a meeting with DC Films during a hiatus on Han Solo about filling the director vacancy in its 'The Flash' movie, according to The Wrap. The two are familiar with the project, they wrote the movie's original treatment in 2015.
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