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.

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