Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ron Howard Signs on for Han Solo Movie

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Ron Howard has agreed to take over the director reigns of the Han Solo movie after the previous directors were fired for "creative differences" after nearly completing principle photography. The director, known for Apollo 13 and a directing Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, has suffered multiple expensive box office misses over the last decade so he is probably looking forward to adding this probable mega hit to his resume. I would not be surprised if it immediately becomes his most successful film ever box office wise.

Howard's task seems easy since in theory he only has to do a month of filming and monitor post production work that has already made significant progress. Instead he has to try to effectively re-film the entire movie to meet what Lucasfilm and Disney want for the production while not actually re-filming the entire movie. That means using movie magic, creative editing with existing footage and creative filming to re-create moments for events and sets that have probably long since been taken down or re-purposed during production over the last few months. Considering his decades long directing career, he is probably one of the few directors with the experience to take it in stride.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Han Solo Movie Directors Fired

It seems the "A Star Wars Story" films just can't catch a break director wise. Rogue One basically did a re-write of the movie with re-shoots, post-production changes and a re-edit that effectively turned the movie over to directing by committee. What was going to be a Boba Fett film had to fire its director due to what could only be described as alleged incompetence and indecisiveness. The replacement film, the Han Solo movie, seemed on track to avoid the problems as it completed its pre-production process without any problems and started principle photography. Instead we learn that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) have been fired over "creative differences."

Via The Hollywood Reporter from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy: "Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon."

"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project," a statement from Lord and Miller read. "We normally aren’t fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew."

"Creative differences" probably occurs way more often then the public is aware of but is caught early enough in the pre-production process to not make the news. THR tries to down play it as just part of the movie making process (and it is) but to occur months into principle photography that started in February and when the movie is probably less then a month from being finished indicates that something went seriously wrong. The site says:
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the style and vision of Lord and Miller clashed with that of Lawrence Kasdan, the legendary screenwriter behind the classics Empire Strikes Back and ‪Raiders of the Lost Ark, who also wrote, with his son, Jon Kasdan, the script for the Han Solo stand-alone set (for now) to be released in 2018.

Lord and Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) have a comedic sensibility and improvisational style while Kasdan favors a strict adherence to the written word — what is on the page is what must be shot.

The creative clash, according to one insider, also came down to differences in understanding the character of Han Solo. “People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish,” said that source.
Despite THR's attempt to shrug it off, this is a major problem and considering the director's likely would have (and may still get) a piece of all the Star Wars action, quitting and/or getting fired is no small thing. We are talking potentially tens of millions of dollars once the dust settles either in payouts, lost residuals, re-shoots, and more. The money involved makes this a massive problem. If this wasn't a Hollywood production you would be hearing talks of CEOs, VPs and other high level management "moving on to other opportunities."

As for what is next, no one knows yet. The current rumor is Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code) or Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Captain America) could take over but most director's at their level tend to loath taking over other's people project. Then again this is Star Wars money and working on one of these movies in a major role basically means retirement if so desire.

While my initial impression of events comes down to "what are we missing?" it does sound like a good call as treating Han Solo or most of the key Star Wars characters as just comedic would be a disastrous tone and everything about the directors' background indicates that is what they know how to do. They probably can do serious but they were hired on the strength of the critical and box office results of The Lego Movie so they probably reasonable assumed that is what Lucasfilm wanted from them - essentially a comedy set in the Star Wars universe. However they seemed to miss two red flags: a) Star Wars isn't comedy, it just has humorous elements and b) Kasdan has never written a comedy in his life. Again this assumes that we are not missing very important details which I think we are.

Since the film is currently in production for for a 2018 release, any day not filming is money being burned so Lucasfilm is going to be highly motivated to get the train back on schedule and its going to cost them dearly to do it. Good thing they have all those Star Wars, Disney, Pixar, and Marvel bucks to make it easier.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy 40th Birthday Star Wars

Today Star Wars turns 40 years old as May 25, 1977 was the day that Star Wars: A New Hope premiered. Happy Birthday to one of the largest, most important franchises in the world. Below is the current Hamilton cast singing Happy Birthday to Star Wars.

Vanity Fair Reveals Last Jedi Tidbits, Characters

Vanity Fair has posted their Star Wars: The Last Jedi article and it includes some great images from behind the scenes of the film. Per usual, the cone of silence on the film was in full effect but a feel details about the film were revealed as highlighted below. You can read the full article and view all the images here.

- The Force Awakens end meeting between Luke and Rey was "painstakingly" re-staged a year later for The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson since lines were to be delivered. Mark Hamill was not pleased about having to go back since its a big of a hike to get to the top were the scene was filmed on near Ireland's County Kerry atop Skellig Michael island.

- Hamill also was not pleased that the story didn't allow for Luke to be there to witness Han's death but figured the popularity of the film means his take was wrong (personally I suspect history will not be kind to The Force Awakens).

- Finn begins movie still recovering from Kylo Ren's lightsaber injuries in a "bacta suit" aka a tank that heals.

- Part of the movie does focus on relationship between Luke and Rey but it is not a "one-to-one correlation between Yoda and Luke as "There's a training element to it but it's not exactly as you would expect."

- The gallery link above includes first look at Benicio Del Toro's "DJ" character (not named in filmed, called that as point of reference) and Resistance officer Vice Admiral Holdo played by Laura Dern.

- Other new character include Resistance maintenance worker Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who goes behind enemy lines with Finn and Lieutenant Kaydel Connix (Billie Lourd).

- Rose and Finn's story takes them to Canto Blight which is "a glittering casino city" and "a playground, basically, for rich assholes."

- Leia would have had a prominent role in Episode IX (similar to how Han was featured in Awakens, Luke in Last Jedi) but Carrie Fisher's had to abandon those plans. The backlash over the CGI Grand Moff Tarkin character in Rogue One also meant it couldn't be possible. Not said is what they settled on but I imagine they wrote the character out of the film and will just use other characters referencing her as a coda to the character.

- Anakin Skywalker's light saber is officially considered to be Rey's lightsaber, at least by Lucasfilm's marketing department. Safe to say that Luke only temporarily regains ownership of the saber when Rey was holding it out to him at the end of The Force Awakens.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Force Awakens Detail Changed for The Last Jedi

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson revealed a story tidbit.
“Yes … The big [favor] was, I asked if R2 could come with Rey, and if BB-8 could stay behind with the Resistance,” Johnson says. “Originally it was BB-8 who went with Rey, which makes sense for the story in a way. But I asked, ‘Can you do me this solid and switch the droids?’”
He also revealed the central point of the movie:
“Figuring out where his head was at was the very first thing I had to do when writing the movie. I had to crack this. And it had to be something for me that first and foremost made sense. Why did Luke Skywalker go off to this island?” Johnson says. “That was the starting point, and that’s what the entire movie explores.”
So while light on details it is interesting that Johnson's story relied on making sure R2 was with Luke. Makes since if considering the previous films where R2 is (almost) always with a Skywalker. It also neatly returns BB-8 back to his original owner Poe Dameron.