There are just a few short days to go before ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ finally arrives in theaters. More so than most ‘Star Wars’ movies (perhaps more so than any, in fact), ‘Solo’ has faced a lot of tribulations on its road from the page to the screen, most notably the replacement of its original directors several months into filming. This development, which was unusual to say the least, quickly became the biggest story to come out of the production, at times even overshadowing the film itself. And now, as the film’s release approaches, we have some new details on the events surrounding the dismissal of Phil Lord and Chris Miller and their replacement by Ron Howard.
Though the details vary, most of the accounts of Miller and Lord’s firing from ‘Solo’ have boiled down to a fairly straightforward narrative. Namely, the two were fired in part because their improvisational approach to filmmaking created conflict with the film’s writers, Lawrence and Jon Kasdan (who wanted them to stick more closely to the script as it was written) and in part due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the sort of film they were hired to make. Entertainment Weekly summed it up best in the wake of their firing, saying that “Lucasfilm and producer Kathleen Kennedy believed Lord and Miller were hired to add a comedic touch. Lord and Miller believed they were hired to make a comedy.”
But unsurprisingly, there’s more to it than that. As detailed in Variety, the issues with Miller and Lord were, per Jon Kasdan, “much more in the bones and practical,” adding that “Chris and Phil did everything they could to make it work, as did we. The questions only became about how to make the movie most efficiently in the time we had to do it.” His father and writing partner (and ‘Star Wars’ veteran) Lawrence Kasdan elaborated, saying:
“Tone is everything to me. That’s what movies are made of. But this was a very complicated situation. When you go to work in the morning on a ‘Star Wars’ movie, there are thousands of people waiting for you, and you have to be very decisive and very quick about it. When you are making those split-second decisions – and there are a million a day – then you are committing to a certain tone. If [the producers] think that isn’t the tone of the movie, you’re going to have trouble. It may not always end this way, but no one was happy about it. It was agony.”
And speaking of producers, the article also quotes an anonymous crew member, who claims Miller and Lord drew the ire of none other than Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy herself.
“I got a lot of overtime [under Miller and Lord], which ultimately was their downfall. The first assistant director brokers that with production. He ultimately went to the well one too many times, and Kathleen Kennedy blew up.”
With this new information in hand, it starts to look as though the issues with Miller and Lord’s improvisational style were less about them going off book per se, and more about the effect that had on the film’s tone. Further complicating the situation was that the sheer number of takes they’d get of any given scene caused filming to fall behind schedule.
This all paints a picture of two filmmakers in Miller and Lord, who talented as they are, may have found themselves a bit out of their depth. ‘Solo’ was, after all, the highest profile and biggest budget film the two had taken on to date, and even under the best of circumstances, it’s a pretty big leap from ’21 Jump Street’ to something on the scale of ‘Star Wars’.
‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ will arrive in theaters on May 25, 2018. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Joonas Suotamo. Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Solo’ and other upcoming ‘Star Wars’ films as it becomes available!