After the shocking announcement earlier this week that the directors of the upcoming Star Wars spin-off focusing on a young Han Solo had left the project, producers have moved swiftly to find a replacement. Academy Award-winner Ron Howard will now take over the film, which still has several weeks of filming left.
On Tuesday, Lucasfilm stunned fans everywhere when they announced that directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord were leaving the untitled Han Solo movie.
The reason given for the departure was the oft-cited “creative differences,” but sources in the days since have indicated that Miller and Lord clashed with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
Miller and Lord are known for comedy films like 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, so they brought a more improvisational approach to the set.
This apparently irked screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the Han Solo film along with his son, Jake Kasdan.
The elder Kasdan is a longtime Star Wars contributor, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, so Kennedy was inclined to take his side in the disagreement.
It’s virtually unheard of for a director to leave a project this late in the game; the Han Solo spin-off has been filming since February and had approximately three more weeks of filming left (with reshoots scheduled for later this summer).
Nonetheless, many industry insiders agree that Howard is a great choice to take over, given his extensive experience working in the studio system.
Howard has the gravitas to take over the troubled production and deal with the potential fallout in the press over the firing of Miller and Lord.
Lucasfilm and Howard have a long history, as well, with Howard appearing in George Lucas’ pre-Star Wars film American Grafitti, directing the Lucas-produced film Willow in 1988, and having been approached by Lucas to direct The Phantom Menace in 1999. Next up, Howard will meet with the cast to ease tensions and will look over a rough edit before filming resumes on July 10.