In an unexpected movie, the Star Wars Han Solo spin-off movie has lost both of its directors more than halfway through shooting.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who had formerly directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street and its sequel, had been employed by Lucasfilm to helm the Han Solo film (which apparently has the working title Solo) and filming began back in February. All seemed well, with cast and crew posting images from what seemed to be a relaxed and fun shoot.
It now turns out that this was not the case. Having tapped Lord and Miller for their loose, improvisational and comedic style, Lucasfilm seemed to develop issues when they approached the Star Wars project with a loose, improvisational and comedic style. In particular, writer-producer Lawrence Kasdan was unhappy with them encouraging the actors to go off-script and producer/Lucasfilm Supreme Leader Kathleen Kennedy was concerned that the film's tone wasn't in keeping with all things Star Wars.
Things came to a head when the studio began planning reshoots, with Kennedy making it clear she wanted the directors to get back on-script and curb their more chaotic sensibilities. The directors refused, apparently leading to them leaving. Some are reporting that they were effectively fired by Lucasfilm, but their own statement puts a more positive spin on things, saying the decision was taken mutually.
Directors leaving a project is hardly unusual, but about three-quarters of the way through actual shooting is unheard of in modern cinema. Lucasfilm are apparently now keen on getting a replacement on board as soon as possible, with steady hand, experienced industry veteran and past George Lucas collaborator Ron Howard looking the most likely to pick up the slack. Joe Johnston is also in the frame if Howard is unavailable, with the final choice being Kasdan himself (although this would have to be a last resort, due to Director's Guild rules on replacing directors with other personnel already on a film).
The Han Solo movie is still aiming for a May 2018 release. Expect to see this fall back to December if the producers decide more extensive reshoots - or even a full remounting of the picture from scratch - are required.