The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the directors of the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off, had left the production. The statements from both the directors and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy are the typical industry pseudo-speak for polite break-ups, with the “different creative visions” line being used heavily. Lord and Miller note that “We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true”. A new director will be announced soon, probably before the D23 conference.
Directors leave productions all the time, but that usually happens before filming starts. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Han Solo movie was 3 weeks away from completing its initial shooting. “Creative differences” is the excuse you use to get rid of the director who won’t toe the line, but pulling that one out when the directors in question are fully immersed in the actual making of the movie raises further questions. Who made the jump first: The directors or Lucasfilm? How tense did things get? What does this signal for the film itself? When will I get the Vanity Fair oral history on the disastrous making of this thing?
It’s especially odd that Lord and Miller, who did such wonderful work on the Jump Street films and The Lego Movie, didn’t at least stay on for those final three weeks before being replaced for reshoots, as seemed to be the case for Rogue One’s Gareth Edwards. Clearly tensions were just too high to last even 21 more days.
This isn’t the first time the new era of Star Wars has had difficulties with its directors. Josh Trank was let go from a production (rumoured to be the Boba Fett movie) after the Fant4stic critical and commercial slams and off-set problems became too big to ignore. And Colin Trevorrow… No, he’s still hanging on. Remember when Kennedy made all the “experience” comments about the lack of women directors on their slate? Seems a bit silly now.
Either way, it’s bad press that Disney, as almighty and untouchable as they are, can do without. Tony Gilroy seems to be a solid favourite to replace Lord and Miller, but this leaves Star Wars fans fearing disappointment with future installments, as the corporate mandate dominates the desire to let film-makers do their job. Maybe they can add a few zeroes to the end of the cheque and see if Patty Jenkins can spare them a few weeks work.