Following several days of the rumor mill churning out speculation, it has become official that Ron Howard will take over for the fired Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) as director on the Han Solo spinoff movie.
Howard is, of course, a seasoned veteran in the filmmaking game who has enjoyed plenty of success (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, etc). But he’s also a safe, non-threatening and unsexy choice that promises not to upset the Lucasfilm tentpole factory. Make of that what you will.
In all likelihood the Han Solo movie will be solid and make a billion dollars at the box office, but try and keep in mind the situation surrounding this movie.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy bodied Lord and Miller over “creative difference,” which is the PC way to say “these guys wouldn’t toe the company line.” Based on background reports, it sounds as if Miller and Lord’s improvisational and humorous style didn’t vibe with Lucasfilm’s more structured approach. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who is enshrined in nerd Hall of Fame for writing The Empire Strikes Back, also bitched about them turning Han Solo into a source of comedy instead of a sarcastic asshole. Love me some Kasdan, but squeezing some humor out of your main character and trying to ensure audiences have a good time is pretty reasonable.
At the end of the day, Kennedy swung the axe and replaced them with Howard, a competent if unexciting choice.
We can’t jump to conclusions before a single frame of footage has been screened for fans. We also can’t judge Lucasfilm too harshly given they’re 2-for-2 in Disney-owned Star Wars movies with a combined $3.12 billion at the box office. But a concerning track record is starting to emerge.
Michael Arndt, the original screenwriter for The Force Awakens, was fired. Then, Josh Trank was booted from a Boba Fett movie (which was the right call). Then, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards was sidelined so Tony Gilroy could oversee the film’s massive reshoots. Now, Lord/Miller were unceremoniously dumped FIVE MONTHS into production. That is unprecedented for a major Hollywood blockbuster.
Sooner or later, all of these creative speed bumps could start catching up to the studio.