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‘Apollo Solo’? Mid-production Star Wars Han Solo movie gets new director, Ron Howard



The Hollywood Reporter has an exclusive up that Ron Howard is getting the nod for the latest Star Wars tale. This flick is, like Rogue One, a “Star Wars story,” not part of the main plot which continues to follow Luke Skywalker & Co.

The as-yet untitled movie is about Han Solo, a younger Solo. The original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were sacked from the production after clashes with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who had the backing of Disney’s Lucasfilm head and executive producer Kathleen Kennedy.

And why should Disney put their trust in Lord and Miller over Kasdan? They shouldn’t. Lord and Miller are known for their comedic, freewheeling improvisational style. Kasdan prefers directors to shoot what’s written. Kasdan is a legend, having written my favorite Star Wars film, and perhaps favorite film of all time, “The Empire Strikes Back.

A few improvisations are fine (as when Harrison Ford famously changed “I love you, too” to “I know” in the carbonite scene), but Solo is Kasdan’s character. That’s a good thing, because George Lucas writes in a turgid, expository way that tends to ruin everything (“I hate sand”) except the original burst of genius in the original 1977 version.

With Lucas gone, Disney has few options to regain fan trust after his endless retcons, editing, and prequels. They must do what’s necessary keep the franchise vibrant (believe me, with $4 billion invested, they are very protective).

Rogue One received a makeover from Tony Gilroy after director Gareth Edwards finished shooting. At all costs, Star Wars-anything must be protected from any kind of box office disaster.

If Kasdan said Lord and Miller must go, well, that was that.

Ron Howard has a very soft touch, a way with drama, and two Oscars. He’s good with the actors, and his name lends gravitas to the production. And George Lucas likes him very much, although that means little to the Mouse.

Howard, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, will meet with the actors — Alden Ehrenreich is playing the iconic smuggler, Donald Glover is playing Lando Calrissian, with Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton also on the roll call — to soothe a rattled set and will pore over a rough edit to see what the project needs. Filming will resume on July 10.

In the end, Lord and Miller apparently had a more slap-stick, funny version of Solo in mind than Kasdan’s.

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.

Oh, and, Mr. Howard, for the record, Solo shot first.

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