What Took Lucasfilm So Long To Fire Star Wars: Han Solo Directors?

The Han Solo cast with the now-departed co-directors

By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)

The fallout of Chris Miller and Phil Lord being fired from Star Wars: Han Solo continues to reveal new details. Unlike most Hollywood stories about upheaval behind a film, the narrative for Lord and Miller’s exit has remained almost completely intact.

The Hollywood Reporter has a few more details about what happened behind the scenes on Star Wars: Han Solo. What we’ve known this far is that Lord and Miller were fired by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy due to creative differences (and Ron Howard has been hired to take over). Where Lord and Miller wanted to improvise on-set, Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan wanted them to adhere to exactly what was written on the page. Star Wars News Net says star Alden Ehrenreich allegedly brought up his concerns about the directors to a producer first.

Now, THR has added a new wrinkle to the story, as the actual time spent shooting seemed to suffer. The outlet points to a shooting day in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit, which was scheduled for 12 to 15 camera setups. When shooting began an hour past noon, the directors only provided three setups for the entire day.

There are very different directorial styles, but having so few setups is generally not how Hollywood shoots their movies. They tend to get as many different angles (known as coverage) as possible, so a film can be cut and recut in the editing stage. It turns out that not only were Miller and Lord let go, but Lucasfilm has replaced then Star Wars: Han Solo editor Chris Dickens (Shaun of the Dead) with Oscar-winner Pietro Scalia (Gladiator).

The big question is why did it take Lucasfilm so long to let the directors go? The reasons are actually due to the potential of these type of articles that other movie news outlets and I are writing. Kennedy wanted to avoid any press about things going badly behind the scenes on such a well loved franchise. Ant-Man had lots of press when Edgar Wright stepped away from the film at the eleventh hour before shooting began — and that was simply Ant-Man, not as well known a character as Han Solo. Lucasfilm wanted to avoid that kind of publicity at all costs.

The studio tried to work around them by hiring an acting coach late in the game because Lucasfilm wasn’t happy with Ehrenreich’s performance. Sources indicate that the studio likes the actor so it seems to be more about Lucasfilm not liking what the directors were doing with him. Meanwhile, Lord and Miller would shoot scenes as they were on the page before going off script which probably caused even more delays. When that approach didn’t work, Lucasfilm tried to put Kasdan in an unofficial directing capacity in the same way that Tony Gillroy was for Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One, but was met with resistance by the Miller and LordPhil Lord tweeted this in early May 2017: “What’s so great about being reasonable”, which could suggest the issues were coming to a head then.

Despite all of the problems on Han Solo, a source behind the scenes said that a lot of what has been captured is still “very usable.” From the sound of it, I suspect that most of the reshoots will be more about shooting inserts of the actors saying their scripted lines, rather than reshooting any of the action.

Lucasfilm has a problem behind the scenes. They want to push the envelope by hiring rising young talent, but also want them to adhere to a strict studio mandated style. At this point, every single Star Wars film has gone through some kind of trouble. The Force Awakens was delayed after director J.J. Abrams tossed out the original screenplay, Han Solo has lost its directors, and Rogue One had its entire third act rewritten and reshot.

Even The Last Jedi, which has had the smoothest production so far, was delayed from May to December 2017 due to a rewrite. Lucasfilm wanted its cake of adhering to the Star Wars aesthetic, and to eat it with fresh new visionary takes on the franchise, too. It seems clear now that they have to pick one or the other.

As of now, the release date for Star Wars: Han Solo remains May 25, 2018.

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