Phil Lord and Chris Miller Drop Out of the Star Wars Han Solo Spin-Off


Update: THR is reporting that in addition to Ron Howard and Lawrence Kasdan, Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Captain America: The First Avenger) is also in the running to direct.

Just as we were sitting down to record this week’s podcast, the internet exploded with some apparently earth shattering news: Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo best known for 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, have dropped out as the directors of the upcoming Star Wars Han Solo film. The movie stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and it was already three months into production, which makes their departure both surprising and costly. They are citing the usual “creative differences” as the reason, but as more details emerge it appears that they were actually fired after months of clashing with producer Kathleen Kennedy. Lord and Miller made the following statement about their exit from the film:

“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this clichĂ© is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”

Kathleen Kennedy also released a statement confirming they had “different creative visions on this film” and that “a new director will be announced soon.” Variety has since reported that Kennedy likes to have a lot of involvement on set, something that Lord and Miller were not used to. However, they also reportedly clashed with Lawrence Kasdan, who has been involved with Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back and wrote the script for this film with his son Jon.

This all comes after some major reshoots happened on Rogue One that saw Tony Gilroy being brought in to help overhaul the ending. Josh Trank (Chronicle, Fantastic Four) was also reportedly fired from an untitled Star Wars project back in 2015. Clearly it sounds like Lucasfilm is no longer the bastion for creative freedom that it once was, but are the people running the show ultimately steering the ship in the right direction?

It will be interesting to see who fans side with on this one, although it may depend on who they replace Lord and Miller with. Deadline is already reporting that Ron Howard is a frontrunner to take over the director’s chair, although Lawrence Kasdan is also supposedly under consideration. At any rate, it sounds like Kathleen Kennedy may be changing her mind about working with exciting young upstarts and moving back to the old guard instead. Are you disappointed by this news? Who would you like to see direct the Han Solo movie?

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  • Claudio

    i smell a desaster. R1 had problems with it’s vision and felt like a mess. i sense an even bigger one for the HAN SOLO movie. somethings weird with disney and the star wars spin-offs…

  • David

    There’s nothing weird at all. These movies are super high profile, high cost, big business risks. When the Han Solo movie rolls out it’s going to be under a magnifying glass and a with a lot of critical judgement by both critics and fans. It will help set the tone for future productions because the franchise is still getting its sea legs with the side movies.

    Disney and LucasFilm exercise creative control and supervision over the product because it’s their business on the line if they screw it up. It’s not just “a” movie, it’s the entire franchise which isn’t just the box-office, it’s the impact on future movie sales, it’s merchandising, ti’s theme park, and it’s reputation.

    I would hazard to say we’ve *never* seen movies, or any entertainment product made before with the pressures of multiple multi-billion dollar industries riding on them like the Star Wars movies have.

    Bringing in young directors was a risky move, and while I’d love to have seen the original Rogue One ending, clearly it was out of alignment with what the studio (the director’s customer) wanted. I suspect to avoid future issues and costly reshoots, Lucasfilm will be reigning in the less proven directors to ensure the product meets their vision.

  • Kasper

    I’m sure this will turn out just as bland and uninteresting as VII and Rogue One and it’ll do gangbusters at the box office.

  • Larry Morgan

    No wonder big blockbusters so often seem to just bring in random vanilla jobbers to do whatever they tell them and not put up any creative ideas. Sad.

  • Shauna

    Wow. I’ve also read that they only had about 3 weeks left of principal photography. Just crazy. And wasn’t the Star Wars movie Trank was fired from also the Han Solo project? Or maybe it was the Boba Fett movie. The studio has also seemed to indicate that they are not changing the release date. So, will these guys still end up getting some sort of directing credit? I can’t believe they are just going to scrap everything they have already filmed.

  • Jameson

    I don’t understand why they even bother hiring big name directors to begin with. With Marvel and Star Wars, it’s clear they just want a yes man who will make something completely uniform to the others films in their franchise. Anyone with a voice (like Edgar Wright and Ant-Man) clearly has no place here.

  • Sean

    I don’t think they will scrap everything they’ve done but they already have reshoots scheduled so I think that’s where they will redo / rework all of the things that they didn’t like.

    As for credit, I imagine it will probably be like Superman II. The new director will get the credit but everyone will know that large chunks of the movie were shot by someone else.

  • Sean

    Obviously it’s good publicity to hire a well-known director and I’m sure they have great intentions when they bring on talented people. Ideally you hire someone who is talented but also fresh-faced, so you can order them around a bit. But that wasn’t the case with Lord and Miller.

  • David

    This is part and parcel of a big budget franchise. Star Wars and Marvel films are mass audience products. The directors are ultimately in service of their client, the studio. If the two parties can’t agree on the vision for the product then the director needs to go. There’s also been reports that they had a different vision for Han Solo’s character that was in conflict with Kasdan’s script.

    I loved Lord and Miller’s other films, but I’d side with Kasdan every single time on understanding who these characters are.

    It would be like if you hired a house painter, and they insisted on their favorite circus colors instead of yours. Would you your neighbors bash you for only hiring yes-men painters?

    This is big business in an established franchise, not some passion project that belongs to the director.

  • Mike99

    This article mentions the clash with Kasdan was over Lord and Miller’s apparent insistence of improv. However, this article also proposes the idea of this being the first Star Wars movie to be brandished with the Alan Smithee moniker, but I guess failed to realize that the DGA retired that back in 2000 and no longer permit it to be used. So who knows if the improv thing is accurate.

    I personally think they should just let Kasdan direct. He’s written the script and been there from the start. Bringing in someone completely new to try and patch it up could be trouble. Ron Howard? Are you kidding me?

  • Jameson

    I agree it’s good publicity and maybe the intentions are good, but ultimately the franchise is selling itself. Whoever is in the director’s chair is somewhat irrelevant. The average person probably has no idea who’s directing Spider-Man: Homecoming but that doesn’t matter.

  • Jameson

    I get that, but then don’t bother getting someone with a unique vision. Just get someone who will do the job exactly as they’re told.

  • Benny

    Hire George Lucas to direct. #CrazyIdeas

  • Nick P.

    I agree with this statement. If you are going to go out of your way to hire Lord and Miller, than you are clearly asking for something that is not typical.

  • David

    I agree. Love Lord and Miler but I think it was a mistake on Lucasfilm’s part to hire them for this job.

  • David

    I think Lucasfilm is open to creative ideas, but these movies are all part of a larger narrative. The pieces have to hang together coherently. There’s a difference between “creative ideas” and “I’m putting my own unique spin on this universe”

  • MehMeh