The news of directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord stepping down from the Untitled Han Solo spinoff rocked the Star Wars community this week. The directing pair left siting genuine “creative differences” with the studio and with only three weeks left on the film’s shoot, Disney and LucasFilm have likely been scrambling to find their replacement (or maybe they had this in mind for a while). Oscar winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) has been confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter to be stepping in as director for the remainder of the shoot.
Miller and Lord were essentially “fired” four-and-a-half months into shooting due to stylistic and tonal differences with Lawrence Kasdan, the film’s screenwriter and a Star Wars writing veteran. According to a source at THR, Kasdan believes that “people need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish.” With Lord and Miller’s comedic track record in films like The Lego Movie or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were taking Han Solo down a more comedic route.
Howard already has a history with LucasFilm: he starred in George Lucas’ 1973 breakout film American Graffiti and was approached to direct the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace. Also being an award winning director, and a veteran within the industry, Howard will be a safe choice to get the movie finished well and calm down the set, which is likely on shaky footing at the present moment. THR also learned that Howard will be meeting with the stars of the film — Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Woody Harrelson — to ease any tensions and “pore over a rough edit to see what the project has and still needs.”
Howard has extensive experience with big budget flicks; however, it should also be noted that his last two ventures, Inferno and In the Heart of the Sea were under-performers at the box office. Another piece of the puzzle that might affect the film’s outcome is the fact that LucasFilm’s recent trend with hiring indie directors on their projects — Gareth Edwards on Rogue One and Rian Johnson on The Last Jedi — will be stopped short on Han Solo.
Regardless, Howard has a proven history of truly great filmmaking experience (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The DaVinci Code, Cocoon, Splash) and will be paramount to have on the now fractured set. Check back for updates as the story progresses. The still Untitled Han Solo Anthology Film is set for release on May 25, 2018.