On Tuesday, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO movie) were fired from the Han Solo stand alone flick over clashes with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan. Before the entire project could be scrapped, Lucasfilm has tapped Ron Howard to take over the reins.
The production is currently taking a few weeks off, but Howard has already started working on the film, which includes five weeks of reshoots. It is unclear at the moment if any additional reshoots will be required on the Star Wars spin-off that was – according to sources – three-quarters finished.
In a statement from Lucasfilm, Kennedy said, “At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July.”
How did this come about? According to Variety, Lord and Miller were fired because they wanted to inject more humor and encouraged improvising among the actors. These were things Kennedy and Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back) did not want. How the film could have made it this far into production without something being done though is still a head scratcher. Part of this story feels like Kennedy and Kasdan were not as involved in the shoot as they probably could have or should have been. The other thought that comes to mind is that they thought the ship would right itself and the directors would come around to the studio’s way of production.
This isn’t the first time a director (or directors) have been fired from movies that were already in, or nearly complete, with production. Steven Soderbergh was fired from Moneyball in 2011 because the studio and producers didn’t agree on his approach to the subject matter. Anthony Mann was let go from 1960’s Spartacus because Kirk Douglas was not pleased with how the film was shot. Douglas replaced Mann with Stanley Kubrick and the film went on to great success. Even the classic Gone with the Wind had a director switch when George Cukor’s fighting with Clark Gable became too much, resulting in Victor Fleming coming in to finish the project. And while Zach Snyder has not been fired from the Justice League movie, Joss Whedon has been brought on to finish the movie while Snyder takes a leave of absence due to the death of his daughter.
Famously, Richard Donner was fired from Superman II when it was three-quarters of the way to completion. Richard Lester came in to “fix” what the studio thought was a disaster, and it resulted in 51% of the film going through reshoots. Fortunately, we can compare Richard Donner’s vision of the Superman and Superman II with the theatrical release to see if this was a success or not.
Which brings us to Ron Howard. I like Ron Howard – he’s one of those actor/directors that has been around for my entire life. He directed Splash, Parenthood, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind, which are favorites of mine. Howard is also responsible for Gung Ho, Angels & Demons, EDtv, and Willow. I expect that after Howard examines the footage, there will indeed be additional weeks of reshoots scheduled, and it won’t surprise me if fifty percent of the movie goes back in front of the lens.
Will the end result be a success? I have no way of knowing that answer right now, but I fear the specter of the Lord/Miller firing will haunt this film going forward, and may have a negative impact when the film finally arrives.
I know you have thoughts on this announcement, and I know other Spoilerites are curious on your reactions as well, so use the comment section below to share your thoughts on this news.