Big news from a galaxy far, far away today, as 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have left the Han Solo spin-off movie during filming.
Variety reports that the duo were fired following long-running creative differences with producer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan.
A press release appeared on the Star Wars official site, in which Kennedy stated: “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.”
Lord and Miller added “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.”
This is somewhat unsettling news, given that the film is currently filming and, per Variety, there are still several weeks left on the schedule.
Both the Variety report and THR’s piece on why Lord and Miller were let go claim that the duo’s approach to both the material and the shooting process put them at odds with Kennedy and Kasdan, the Star Wars veteran who wrote the script with his son Jon. Per THR: “Lord and Miller have a comedic sensibility and improvisational style while Kasdan favours a strict adherence to the written word — what is on the page is what must be shot.”
It also seems like there was a difference in opinion regarding the tone of the film and the treatment of Han Solo. THR’s unnamed source says “People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish.” Variety notes that Kennedy has discussed a “…a heist or Western type feel,” and the directors “were stunned to find that they were not being granted freedom to run the production in the manner that they were accustomed to. They balked at Kennedy’s tight control on the set.” Kennedy and Kasdan clearly knew what they wanted, and it doesn’t sound like Lord and Miller were interested in that.
It seems as though the friction between the two parties has been a part of the production since it began, but there’s some disagreement as to whether or not Lord and Miller’s departure was a surprise for the duo. It feels like their process and take on the material shouldn’t have been too much of a shock given their (excellent) track record, and it was their inventiveness and wit that made them an exciting choice for the project in the first place. We were looking forward to seeing what they would do with the character. While Tony Gilroy was brought on to rewrite and reshoot big chunks of Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One, Edwards was still front and centre for the film’s release. This is much more…final.
Meanwhile, the film’s release date hasn’t changed and a replacement needs to be found, fast.
Deadline reports that veteran Ron Howard has “emerged as the frontrunner” for the job, while THR also names Joe Johnston (who actually worked on the original films as an effects artists before going on to direct Captain America: The First Avenger, The Rocketeer) and Kasdan himself as possible directors.
It stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca and Woody Harrelson as Beckitt, as well as Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Michael Kenneth Williams and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in unconfirmed roles.
The Han Solo anthology film is in cinemas from 25 May 2018. Get all the latest sci-fi news with every issue of SciFiNow.