More details are emerging about just what led up to the firing of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the standalone Star Wars Han Solo movie, and if things sounded the opposite of promising before, it’s beginning to sound like production has been a mess for quite some time.
A new report from The Hollywood Reporter seems to confirm earlier rumors that the freewheeling nature of Lord and Miller’s style was clashing with the more by-the-numbers Lucasfilm attitude. Both Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the movie’s screenwriter and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan were reportedly unhappy with the way the movie was progressing.
Sources are quoted talking about the “deep fundamental philosophical differences” between the two factions, with everything from the number of camera placements during a shoot (Lord and Miller used too few, according to Lucasfilm) to the use of improvisation on set (Lord and Miller were for, Lucasfilm decidedly against) causing conflict between the filmmakers and their employers.
It wasn’t just the Lucasfilm bosses that weren’t a fan of the way the directors worked; an anonymous source told THR that the improvisational nature of their method meant that work on the movie had slowed considerably because other departments didn’t have the kind of advance notice they need to complete projects in time. “You have to make decisions much earlier than what they’re used to,” one quote read. “I don’t know if it’s because there were two of them but they were not decisive.”
(This jibes with what anonymous sources have been telling Playboy; with the shoot being described as “goofy” by someone on the set. There are times when “goofy” is a good thing, and then there are times when people would rather get their jobs done; THR’s claim that news that Ron Howard would be taking over the movie was met with applause from the crew suggest that the latter was the case.)
That said, there were apparently problems on the set beyond the directors; Lucasfilm wasn’t impressed by the performances in footage to date, reportedly, with an acting coach being brought in specifically for Alden Ehrenreich, the movie’s lead and future Han Solo — something that isn’t a good sign for anyone involved.
It’s unclear, as yet, what is going to happen to the footage shot since January by Lord and Miller. One of THR’s sources says that “much” of the footage is “very usable,” which is hardly a ringing endorsement. With just a handful of weeks left on the initial shoot ahead of a planned reshoot period down the line, the movie has a lot of ground to make up if it’s going to meet its May 2018 release date. Can Ron Howard pull everything together — including potentially upping the performances of all involved — in that short a time period… and even if he does, can the movie lose the bad reputation it’s increasingly gained over the last week or so?
Suddenly, dealing with the Empire feels like child’s play in comparison with what Han Solo has to do over the next eleven months.