Another day and more details keep emerging in the fallout of the shock exit of directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord from the young Han Solo “Star Wars” spin-off feature. THR has posted a lengthy breakdown of the saga in a piece that includes several new wrinkles to the story.
Talk of “deep fundamental philosophical differences” in filmmaking style continue. Sources for the trade say Lord & Miller felt they were being given “zero creative freedom” and forced to operate under “extreme scheduling constraints” and “were never given enough days for each scene from the very beginning”.
On the flipside, insiders also say the pair simply “weren’t prepared for a movie of this size and scope” and their more improvisational style “does not work on a set with hundreds of crewmembers waiting for direction”. Production department heads reportedly began to complain.
When the shoot moved from the UK to the Canary Islands is when things really got interesting. Lucasfilm replaced editor Chris Dickens (“Macbeth”) with Oscar-winner Pietro Scalia (“The Martian,” “Alien: Covenant”). Having also seen the dailies, Lucasfilm decided to bring in an acting coach for Alden Ehrenreich – an odd move so far along in a film’s production.
Lawrence Kasdan was then sent to London and became something of a ‘shadow director’, demanding that “every line [of the script he co-wrote] was said word for word” and to appease him and the studio, Lord and Miller would “do several takes exactly as written and then shoot additional takes.”
The impasse was reached in June and so Kennedy, with Disney Studios head Alan Horn’s blessing, pulled the trigger and let the pair go. When the crew was told that Ron Howard would take over as director, sources for the trade say “they broke into applause”.
Howard meanwhile was concerned about how Lord and Miller would react and has apparently been emailing with them, with the two apparently being very supportive. Shooting was slated to wrap in July but that will now be extended to early September as Howard captures new material. Even so, sources say much of what Miller and Lord have already shot is “very usable”.
There is concern though, despite Rian Johnson suffering no major interference from Lucasfilm whilst shooting “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” that what little creative risk the franchise is already taking will have to be curbed. Between this, Josh Trank’s dismissal from a second “Star Wars” stand-alone, and Gareth Edwards’ being shunted aside from ‘Rogue One’ because it was too dark a war film, rivals are smelling blood in the water.
An executive from another studio tells the trade: “All of the films have been ‘troubled’. J.J. [Abrams] was powerful enough to push back on an unrealistic start date [for the first movie] but that was a tug of war. The last one was reshot by Tony [Gilroy] for months and now this? This is a systemic problem.”
The full report with all its allegations is up at The Hollywood Reporter. Disney CEO Bob Iger is playing down the panic talk, telling TMZ this weekend: “First of all we have a great cast, we have a great script, and we have a great director. It’s gonna be fine.”