Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have left the Han Solo movie. This shocking news dropped overnight, and I have to say, it is worrying news for a number of reasons...
Lets start with what we know. Both Lucasfilm Ltd and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have made statements through press releases on the subject. Here is what Kathleen Kennedy had to say -
Different create visions seem to be at the heart of the issue. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller made reference to the same in their statement -
I'm sure I'm not alone in getting waves of anxiety about the news, not only because it reminds me of the Josh Trank episode from a couple of years ago, but because it feels similar to the instability on Rogue One. But we will look at the possible reasons behind the friction in a moment.
First lets look at how the production might move forward. Kathleen Kennedy has said, in her statement that a new director will be announced shortly. This says to me that one is already locked and that Lucasfilm are either waiting for the ink to dry on a contract or they are waiting a respectful about of time, whilst Phil Lord and Christopher Miller clean out their desk[s]. Ron Howard is one name connected to the project. Tony Girloy, who came on to help shape Rogue One last year, has made a statement that he will not be involved in this move. My money is on Lawrence Kasdan taking over.
The creative differences on set seem to be between, not only Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and Kathleen Kennedy but with the directors clashing with Lawrence Kasdan, who penned the movie with his son, Jon. With things moving so quickly, whilst the movie still has "many weeks" or principal photography and a locked release date, perhaps Lucasfilm would be best served to bring in the one person who best understands the material: the writer.
Star Wars has long been thought of as an auteur filmmaking, with George being the single creative vision. Would Lucasfilm be best served by hiring writer/directors for these movies, the way they did with Rian Johnson on The Last Jedi? It might be the only way to ensure the film you get is the film you green light.
One thought that crossed my mind was that Kathleen Kennedy may be trying to recreate the "Lucas Model" of hiring directors, who could be "worked though" by the producers to get the material they need for the final edit. Think Richard Marquand on Jedi. Many have suggested this was the feeling onset, that Lucas was simply directing through Marquand. Variety seemed to suggest that part of the creative issue was that Kathleen Kennedy wasn't getting what she envisioned from two directors who felt they had the creative freedom to make the film their own.
The Variety article also suggests that Kathleen Kennedy is trying to "make a splash" by hiring independent directors for these films and then failing to empower them.
Whatever turns out to be true, this does not look good for Disney, Lucasfilm Ltd, Kathleen Kennedy or Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Star Wars fans are already troubled by the events surrounding Rogue One, even though that film became a success, both at the box office and in the eyes of Star Wars fans. There has also been a lot of unrest with Colin Trevorrow and his place on Star Wars Episode IX with many fearing the reception to his latest movie, The Book of Henry, might effect his place at the helm of the final part in the sequel trilogy. With the Josh Trank firing still fresh in everyone's mind, could the departure of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller shake consumer confidence in Kathleen Kennedy as the head of Lucasfilm? I'm sure an argument can be made for the removal of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being a bold move, in the best interests of the Han Solo film, but I'm struggling to see that right now, personally.
I wish we could go back to the days where we would see and fall in love with a movie and then learn all of these "truths" later, in documentaries and industry publications. Unfortunately that isn't the word we live in, so we have to watch these things unfold and trust in those making the decisions.
I for one, will be sad not to see the Phil Lord and Christopher Miller version of Han Solo, but who knows, the movie we get, might be better for it.
What are your feelings on the subject? Is Kathleen Kennedy being bold a decisive in making a hard choice here? Or is this a sign that Lucasfilm are making errors from the start with some of their hiring? How do you expect to step into the role of director here? Ron Howard is a name in the mix, as is Joe Johnston and or course, writer Lawrence Kasdan. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you for reading,