With the success of the new Star Wars films and spin offs being well known it seems that the story of behind the scenes sheenanigans are becoming just as renowned.
The latest is the sacking of directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller from the Han Solo spin off film with ‘creative differences’ being cited as the reason between the parting of ways. Industry Bible The Hollywood Reporter has run a piece stating that this is not quite the case. Lord & Miller, whose comedy films have included The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street where they employed an improvisational style, a technique that they bought to their Star Wars film. It was a style not liked by top Hollywood scribe Lawrence Kasden (The Empire strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark,The Bodyguard) who wrote the script for Han Solo and the directors apparently making significant detours from his script to such a degree that there were major story changes. Kasden was far from happy and so it seems was executive producer Kathleen Kennedy but the directors dug their heels in complaining of, ‘deep fundamental philosophical differences’ but still they did not comply with any reshoot instructions from high up. The directors then complained of, “zero creative freedom” and having to work under, “extreme scheduling constraints’.
It seems though that this might be to cover up what insiders on set felt was their unsuitability for a film of such proportions and their improvisational style not being suited to a production of such size and it seems that the various heads of department became ever more vocal about the pair as hundreds of crew waited around for them to make decisions and word started to filter up to the Disney studio boss who sent Lawrence Kasdan to London to ‘shadow’ both directors insisting that, “every line [of the script he co-wrote] was said word for word”. An already fractious production,the directors would “do several takes exactly as written and then shoot additional takes.” to appease everyone.
Things got worse when they moved from the UK studios to the Canary Islands. Lucasfilm replaced the films editor and perhaps more concerning was that Lucasfilm are rumoured to have bought in an acting coach for Alden Ehrenreich who is playing Han Solo despite a significant part of the film having already been shot.
Alden the last jedi began to voice his concern about the directors also, worrying that their screwball comedy angle was starting to interfere with what the character of Han Solo is really about. An unnamed source has said that the pair were wanting a representation of Solo that would be more along the lines of Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura character.
By Monday 26th June it all came to a head as Kathleen Kennedy and Disney boss Alan Horn told the two directors that they were being. ‘let go’. To rub salt in the wound when the crew were told that Ron Howard was taking over the director reins they all broke out in applause.
So at present the production is on a small hiatus whilst Howard gets himself up to speed with what has already been shot. But it gets even more complex as both directors may get final cut of the film if The Directors Guild of America enforce a little known loophole namely:
‘A director who is replaced after directing ninety percent (90 percent) but less than one hundred percent (100 percent) of the scheduled principal photography of any motion picture shall be the Director of the film entitled to all the post-production creative rights set forth’.
Additionally, should the requirements be met, then no one is allowed to ‘interfere’ with the director while they create their Director’s Cut. However Disney would be under no obligation to put their directors cut in theatres. Quite how much of the film they had actually shot before they were fired is unknown or if, as part of their exit contract, they signed a deal which prevents the possibility.
Few come out of this looking good and the franchise is starting to look like a bit of a poisoned chalice to directors. The Force Awakens had JJ Abrams who has enough clout to get his way and got the release date pushed back but since then directors have not had it easy.
Josh Trank was swiftly dumped from helming one of the films after the failure of Fantasic Four, Gareth Edwards Rogue One had extensive reshoots done by Tony Gilroy as the studio regarded Edwards film cut as too dark. In fairness it seems that Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi has proved smoother with it rumoured to be ahead of schedule and will be ready by the end of August ready for its Christmas 2017 release.
Quite what the Han Solo film will be like now is anyone’s guess and its release is at present still projected for a May 25th 2018.