UPDATED with Lucasfilm confirmation: As Deadline scooped shortly after Disney and Lucasfilm dropped the bombshell that Phil Lord & Christopher Miller were dropped from the Star Wars Han Solo film that has been six months into production, Ron Howard has been set to replace the duo. Contrary to catch-up reports elsewhere claiming there were multiple candidates, Howard had been working out a deal since the other filmmakers were let go.
Lucasfilm made the hire official this morning on its StarWars.com, and said filming will resume July 10 (see its full statement below this story).
Howard transitioned from child star of The Andy Griffith Show to adulthood in Star Wars creator George Lucas’s American Graffiti alongside original Han Solo Harrison Ford. Now, he’ll head immediately to London’s Pinewood Studios to get the picture back up and running as Disney struggled to keep its Memorial Day 2018 release date.
The Lego Movie filmmakers dropped in a testy exit after an inability to recover from creative rifts between them and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan. He wrote the script with his son, is exec producer, and a backbone of Jedi lore as the scribe of early Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi.
The exit of Lord and Miller shocked Hollywood and indicated that directors are becoming as disposable in these tentpole blockbuster sequels/spinoffs as screenwriters have always felt. The whole episode is vexing to the DGA, and it will remain to be seen how the credit situation gets handled. You always hear about directors being shoved aside on problem films — World War Z among them — but it became an open secret that Tony Gilroy directed extensive re-shoots that he wrote on the Gareth Edwards-directed first Star Wars spinoff Rogue One. The credit issue wasn’t tested there; Michael Clayton helmer Gilroy was paid millions of dollars and Edwards remained the credited director on a film that turned out to be a crowd-pleasing success that crossed the billion-dollar mark in worldwide gross.
The DGA, under what is commonly known as “the Eastwood Rule,” prohibits an actor or producer from firing a director and taking over. This occurred after Clint Eastwood had a beef with director Philip Kaufman on The Outlaw Josie Wales, that not only had to do with the film’s tone, but also an actress — Sondra Locke. This complicated the idea that Kasdan would take over, despite credits that include The Big Chill. The credit situation is a matter for another day; Disney’s priority is to get finished a film that has high stakes because of the beloved nature of the rogue Han Solo character. He’ll be played in formative stages by Alden Ehrenreich, who is surrounded by Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca).
In Howard, Disney’s getting an Oscar-winning pro who has seen it all as actor-producer-director, and can step right in to get the picture back on track. He was conveniently available, even as he recently agreed to direct a feature docu on Luciano Pavarotti, while developing numerous features that include an adaptation of the publishing phenomenon of Hillbilly Elegy.
CAA made his deal.
Here’s Lucasfilm’s statement:
Lucasfilm is pleased to announce that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard has been named director of the untitled Han Solo film.
“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,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “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.”
Howard has made some of the biggest hits and most critically-acclaimed movies of the modern era. Among his many films are Lucasfilm’s Willow, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind (winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director), The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon, and Rush. He also narrated and produced the beloved comedy series Arrested Development, starred in George Lucas’ American Graffiti, and remains a TV icon for his roles in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days.
The untitled Han Solo film is slated for a May 25, 2018, release.