The buzzy ensemble film led by Alden Ehrenreich has been shooting since late January, and there were only weeks left on its production schedule, raising immediate doubts about a timely release on top of the highly-uncommon staff change — with no replacement lined up, to boot.
Here are three things you need to know about the abrupt exit of the “21 Jump Street” and “Lego Movie” directors from the Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film:
1. “Creative Differences” Is True (for Once)
“Creative differences” is the Hollywood version of “irreconcilable differences” — or a very polite way to tell judge and jury you’d rather die than stay in your marriage.
In the case of the Han Solo spinoff, however, it’s actually true. Lord and Miller had a vision for the movie that greatly differed from that of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, an individual familiar with the conflict told TheWrap.
They have also tended to work in a more improvisational style on previous projects like the “21 Jump Street” movies and “The Lego Movie” which may not have fit with the more scripted approach favored by high-profile studio franchise movies.
Kennedy, whose name and face is now as synonymous with “Star Wars” as the Stormtrooper helmet since she took over the franchise after Disney’s acquisition in 2012, brought the ax down on the directors after weeks of tension that reached a boiling point in late May, a second insider said.
Individual statements from Lord and Miller and Kennedy calmly and politely said “creative differences” were at the heart of their split.
It’s worth noting that Lord and Miller were fired — which signals that, whatever Kennedy’s vision of the Han Solo spinoff turns out to be, she’s not budging.
“We normally aren’t fans of the phrase,” Lord and Miller said. “But for once this cliché is true.”
2. Lucasfilm Says Release Date Won’t Change (Side-Eye Emoji)
The Untitled Han Solo project “remains scheduled for a May 2018 release,” according to Lucasfilm.
The project still has weeks of filming to complete, another individual close to set said, though the majority of principal photography was completed in London in May. Ehrenreich, in the title role, has no other project on deck making him available for reshoots (almost routinely scheduled in advance for projects of this size).
Donald Glover, who stars as a young Lando Calrissian, is working on Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King,” but that’s a voice role.
It’s hard to fathom a timely release with a workflow disruption of this size, but the statement also promised a new director would be named imminently. Which leads us to …
3. Job Opening
Kennedy said a new director for the film would be named soon, which inspires its own mess of questions.
Lord and Miller completed preproduction phases and most of the shoot — meaning a replacement would need to carry the film across the finish line with likely permanent over-the-shoulder guidance from Kennedy. It’s unclear who would be available for such a task, or who would want it given the PR nightmare surrounding Lord and Miller’s abrupt removal.
Ron Howard’s name was immediately floated in several media reports as a potential replacement, though his agency CAA had no comment.
Another possibility is “The Big Chill” director Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote the Han Solo script with his son, Jon Kasdan, as well as the screenplays for “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.”
How would you solve a problem like Han Solo? Tell us in comments below.
Umberto Gonzalez contributed to this report.