Late yesterday, unexpected news broke that the directorial team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie, both Jump Street movies) had been let go from Disney’s upcoming standalone Han Solo movie. Given that the film is only three weeks away from the end of principal photography, it’s no surprise that names are already starting to surface to replace them.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ron Howard has emerged as a contender to take over helming duties, as has Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Jumanji). There’s also the possibility that screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who has directed movies like The Big Chill and Silverado, could step in. Kasdan, who famously scripted The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, co-wrote the new film with his son Jon, and therefore already knows what needs fixing. Based on reports, it’s the conflict between Kasdan’s harder-line approach to Solo and Lord/Miller’s more comic and free-form take that led to their removal from the film.
While Howard may not seem the most likely choice, the suggestion that Kasdan wants a more straightforwardly traditional film about Han Solo makes him a strong candidate. He’s also a veteran filmmaker who could restore order to a production that’s now been thrown into quite a bit of turmoil. Johnston, who also helmed the delightfully vintage Captain America: The First Avenger, would be an equally inspired choice.
Regardless, it’s still a stunning decision on the part of Disney and Lucasfilm to part ways with Lord and Miller over “creative differences.” As our own Cap Blackard noted in the wake of yesterday’s news, “Just think of how hard both Lucasfilm and Lord and Miller must have fought to try and overcome these irreconcilable differences – especially now, with only three weeks left to film.”
Whatever happens next, the Han Solo film is still slated for release next Memorial Day weekend, on May 25th, 2018. After four weeks of filming, work has been halted while a replacement director is found. Whoever steps in is expected to take a few weeks revisiting and re-editing the footage already shot before they ramp up production again. Don’t be surprised if that release date changes before this turnover is fully resolved.