Lucasfilms Confirms Ron Howard To Take Over As Director For Han Solo Prequel: What Went Wrong?

Principal filming on the as yet untitled Han Solo movie is due to resume on July 10, 2017, with renowned director Ron Howard taking over in the lead chair. Lucasfilm made the official announcement today, just a day after the studio announced the departure of the previous directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm, had this to say in her official press release.

"At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago. With that in mind, we're thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July."
Ron Howard is known for a slate of award-winning films, including Apollo 13, Parenthood, The Da Vinci Code, and Cinderella Man. He's also known George Lucas for over forty years, ever since he starred in Lucas' American Graffiti in 1973. This friendship led Howard to direct the Lucasfilm fantasy, Willow, and serve as an unofficial adviser to Lucas for the Star Wars prequels.

Why Were Phil Lord and Chris Miller Fired?

According to inside sources, the trouble between the studio and Lord and Miller started because of a difference in vision. That much can be gleaned from the statement that Lucasfilm released when they announced the duo's firing. The studio called Lord and Miller talented filmmakers but cited "different creative visions" as the reasons for parting ways. Likewise, the pair released their own statement affirming Lucasfilm's announcement. The duo said that their "vision and process weren't aligned with our partners" saying that even though "creative differences" is a cliche, in this case, it really was that.

So, why were a pair of talented directors, known for their outstanding projects (The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) let go from the Han Solo prequel?

According to sources, Phil and Chris thought that they were hired to make a movie in their style. That is, they thought they were being hired to make a comedy. Meanwhile, Kennedy and Lucasfilm only wanted them to lend their touch to turn the young Han Solo into the wise-cracking, nerf-herding scoundrel that fans have loved for forty years.

Ron Howard will be directing Han Solo Prequel
Donald Glover's comedic talent is one reason why directors Lord and Miller began to go off-script. [Image by Richard Shotwell/AP Images File]

Lord and Miller saw the comedic actors and actresses attached to the movie and began straying from the script that was written by Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back alum Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jon Kasdan. Over time, these little differences began to add up, until the project began to look very different from the vision that Kennedy, Kasdan, and Lucasfilm had in mind. With principle photography nearing its end, the studio began to worry about the film and started pressuring the directing pair.

Phil and Chris refused to buckle under the pressure, saying that as directors, they had a responsibility to make the film they imagined. This caused the relationship between them and Lucasfilm to break. And while Lord and Miller have significant weight in Hollywood, when it comes to Star Wars, Kennedy has a track record with the franchise. She supervised the launch of the new era of Star Wars films, including the immensely successful one-shot film, Rogue One. She also has other mega-hits to her credit, including Jurassic Park, and Back to the Future. Combine that with Kasdan, who not only wrote Empire, but also Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, backing her, and it was clear who would have to go.

Why were Han solo directors fired
Phil Lord and Chris Miller were ousted from the director's chair after a difference in vision from Lucasfilm. [Image by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images]

And go they did. Despite the firing, however, Lord and Miller will not take a career hit because the termination was creative-based instead of financially-based. They have plenty of projects on their plate, and their comedic vision will be more than welcome in many more films over the years.

As for Han Solo, Lucasfilm anticipates that principle shooting will complete on time, and the movie is still slated for its May 25, 2018 release date.

[Featured Image by Yohanes Sanjaya/flickr/image cropped and resized/CC BY 2.0]