Why Movies Need Directors Like Phil Lord and Chris Miller More Than Ever

Chris Miller, Phil LordMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and
Charbonneau/REX/Shutterstock

In the current Hollywood tentpole landscape, producers call the shots, while helmers are guns-for-hire. So where do visionary directors fit into the equation?

A few days ago, my colleague Owen Gleiberman wrote a scathing essay questioning whether Colin Trevorrow was the right choice to direct “Star Wars: Episode IX,” suggesting that the “Jurassic World” helmer’s in-between indie, “The Book of Henry,” is such an abomination we have reason to think he could ruin the franchise that has already weathered the likes of Gungans and Ewoks.

It was a tough essay, so much so that I genuinely feared Trevorrow’s job could be in danger. And then a funny thing happened. “Star Wars” producer Kathleen Kennedy fired the directors on a completely different “Star Wars” movie, axing Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the Han Solo project. What!?!?

The universe needs directors like Lord and Miller more than ever these days — and not just the “Star Wars” universe, mind you, but the multiverse of cinematic storytelling in general. Lord and Miller represent that rarest of breeds: directors with a fresh and unique vision, backed by the nerve to stand up for what they believe in.

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Phil Lord, Chris MillerStar Wars Celebration Europe 2016, London, UK - 17 Jul 2016Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016, the official Lucasfilm event celebrating all things Star Wars, produced by fans for fans, at Excell, London.

‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Fired After Clashing With Kathleen Kennedy (EXCLUSIVE)

Just look at their track record: After starting their careers as TV writers (they created the MTV cartoon series “Clone High” and wrote for “How I Met Your Mother”), the duo made their feature directorial debut with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” a wildly imaginative reinvention of a 32-page children’s book that heralded them as bold, outside-the-box comedy storytellers.

Then they made the jump to live-action, bringing their trademark brand of hip, pop-savvy self-awareness to the feature-length “21 Jump Street” remake. Few animation directors have survived the leap from animation to live-action (just consider the likes of “John Carter” and “Monster Trucks”), but Lord and Miller took to the new medium like naturals (technically, they had experience from their TV writing days — and I remember hearing stories that they’d actually taken a break from “Cloudy” to write an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” just so they wouldn’t lose their Writers Guild insurance benefits, but that’s another story about animators don’t enjoy the same protection in this industry).

“21 Jump Street” took the concept of a tired old ’80s TV show — two baby-faced cops go undercover as high-school students — and rebooted it with a playful twist, turning the ludicrous setup into one giant joke. Then came “The Lego Movie,” in which they cracked one of the weirdest assignments in 21st-century filmmaking — bring the popular line of kids toys to life — in a wholly original way, embracing the fact that Legos had spawned an almost cult-like sub-genre of fan films (to capitalize on the trend, the Lego company had even released a “MovieMaker Set” in 2000, complete with stop-motion camera and Steven Spielberg-styled minifigure) to make the ultimate wisecracking meta-movie.

After that string of successes, Lord and Miller had become two of the hottest names in town, able to pick their projects. But like so many directors of their generation — children of the ’70s whose love of cinema had been inspired by George Lucas’ game-changing space opera, what they wanted was to make a “Star Wars” movie. For a moment, that seemed possible, since the producers were hiring indie directors like Rian Johnson (“Brick”) and Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) to helm these tentpoles.

On paper, Lord and Miller’s irreverent sensibility seemed like a perfect match for Han Solo, the franchise’s most sardonic character. One has to assume that it was precisely that take Kathy Kennedy and the “Star Wars” producers wanted when they hired the duo. But this is where modern critics, columnists and the fan community at large fail to understand a fundamental change that is happening at the blockbuster level in Hollywood: These directors are not being chosen to put their personal stamp on these movies. They are being hired to do the opposite, to suppress their identity and act grateful while the producers make all the key creative decisions.

Want to know why Trevorrow was picked to direct “Jurassic World” when his only previous credit was a nifty little sci-fi indie called “Safety Not Guaranteed”? It’s because he plays well with others, willing to follow exec producer Steven Spielberg’s lead when necessary. Going in to the assignment, Trevorrow had no experience directing complicated action sequences or overseeing massive-budget special effects. He didn’t need it, because those aspects of the movie were delegated to seasoned heads of department, while Trevorrow focused on what he does best: handling the interpersonal chemistry between the lead characters. (Personally, I hold Trevorrow responsible for the decision to film Bryce Dallas Howard running in high heels, but not the turducken-like gag where a giant CG monosaur rises up to swallow the pterodactyl that’s eating Bryce’s assistant. Surely someone else oversaw that nearly-all-digital sequence.)

Independent schlock producer Roger Corman memorably observed that in the post-“Jaws,” post-“Star Wars” era, the A movies have become the B movies, and the B movies have become the A movies — which is another way of saying that today, instead of taking risks on smart original movies for grown-up sensibilities (say, tony literary adaptations and films based on acclaimed Broadway plays), the studios are investing most of their resources into comic-book movies and the equivalent of cliffhanger serials (from Tarzan to Indiana Jones).

To Corman’s equation I would add the following corollary: On today’s tentpoles, the director’s job is to take orders, while producers and other pros are called in to oversee the complicated practical and CG sequences that ultimately define these movies. It’s an extension of the old second-unit model, wherein experienced stunt and action-scene professionals handled the logistics of car chases and exotic location work — except that now, such spectacular sequences are the most important part of effects-driven movies. Meanwhile, the one ingredient the producers can’t fake or figure out on their own is the human drama, which is the reason that directors of Sundance films keep getting handed huge Hollywood movies: to deliver the chemistry that will make audiences care about all those big set pieces.

How times have changed: In the 1980s, the only one who would make a movie like “Fantastic Four” was Corman, which he did for peanuts, whereas two years ago, Fox dumped more than $125 million into the same property. And the director they picked? Josh Trank, whose only previous feature had been the low-budget “Chronicle.” Let’s not forget that Trank ankled his own “Star Wars” spinoff, which I suspect had everything to do with realizing what happens when forced to relinquish control of a project in which he’s listed as the in-title-only director.

Back in the ’60s, a group of French critics writing for Cahiers du Cinéma coined what has come to be known as “the auteur theory,” a relatively quaint idea that the director (as opposed the screenwriter, star or some other creative contributor) is the “author” of a film. In the half-century since, critics everywhere have fallen for this fantastical notion that directors have creative autonomy over the movies they make — when in fact, as often as not, that simply isn’t the case.

The auteur theory makes for a convenient myth, of course, and one that lazy critics have long perpetuated, because it’s much to difficult to give credit where it’s due when confronted with the already-cooked soufflé of a finished movie. Critics aren’t allowed into the kitchen, after all, and though countless chefs (or heads of department, to clarify the metaphor) contribute to any given film production, it’s virtually impossible to identify who was really responsible for the choices that make the film what it is.

How much of “Citizen Kane’s” creative genius can be attributed to cinematographer Gregg Toland? Would “Jaws” or “Star Wars” have been even half as effective without composer John Williams? Did editor Ralph Rosenblum save “Annie Hall”? And most relevant to the discussion at hand: Is it correct to think of “Rebecca” as an Alfred Hitchcock movie (he directed it, after all), or does the result more thoroughly reflect the hand of producer David O. Selznick?

This is all complicated by the fact that an entire class of filmmakers — the so-called “film-school generation” — seized upon the auteur theory, turning it into something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the likes of Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas and so on left their signature on the movies they made. Meanwhile, the Cahiers critics (several of whom went on to become directors, among them Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut) were protected by a uniquely French copyright law dating back to the 18th century, known as the “droit d’auteur,” which entitled them to final cut (a privilege precious few Hollywood directors have).

But these remain the exception, not the rule. In the case of the “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars” franchises, the director is decidedly not the auteur. To the extent that a single vision forms the creative identity of these films, it’s almost always the producer we should hold responsible. To understand that, we need only look back to the original “Star Wars” sequel, “The Empire Strikes Back,” a movie “directed” by Irvin Kershner, but every bit George Lucas’ brainchild (he reportedly hand-picked Kershner for his strength with character development). The same goes for Richard Marquand on “Return of the Jedi.”

This shouldn’t be a scandalous revelation. It just doesn’t fit with the self-aggrandizing narrative that many directors have chosen for themselves. Yes, the 1989 “Batman” is without question “a Tim Burton movie”: Burton has such an incredibly distinctive aesthetic, and the personality to push it through a system that’s virtually designed to thwart such originality. But when it comes to the incredibly successful “X-Men” franchise, there’s no question that producer (and “Superman” director) Richard Donner deserves as much credit as those first two films’ director, Bryan Singer. Simply put, that franchise owes its personality to both of their involvement.

But when it comes to “Jurassic World,” that movie probably wouldn’t look much different in the hands of someone other than Trevorrow. And the same can almost certainly be said for the “Star Wars” movie he’s been hired to direct, because in both cases, it’s the producers who are steering the ship. When the stakes are this high, it would be downright reckless to give complete autonomy to relatively unproven directors.

That’s increasingly the case in Hollywood these days. Director Dave Green (who’d made a tiny Amblin-style movie called “Earth to Echo”) went through it on a franchise project produced by Michael Bay. He was tapped to helm “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” only to discover that he had no autonomy. Granted, Green was still wet behind the ears and had no experience with a nine-digit budget or big union crew. But that wasn’t the job, because Bay never expected him to handle everything. Instead, the producer pulled in more experienced professionals to oversee much of the action and visual effects, while Green followed orders and worked his magic with the actors.

You can bet Tom Cruise’s paycheck that the same thing happened on “The Mummy,” in which Alex Kurtzman is listed as director, but the producer-star was reportedly calling most of the shots. How appropriate that a Universal monster movie reboot should be the victim of what amounts to a kind of creative Frankenstein effect.

Likewise, Marvel has had more success (both financially and artistically) forcing directors to conform to an inflexible set of aesthetic guidelines than it did when art-house “auteur” Ang Lee experimented with his own ideas on 2003’s “Hulk.” And though Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón is celebrated for the personal touch he brought to the Harry Potter franchise, it was relatively malleable British TV director David Yates whom writer-producer J.K. Rowling approved to direct four more films in the series.

So where does that leave us with “Star Wars”? On one hand, it’s perfectly understandable that the producers would want Trevorrow to direct Episode IX, since he’s already demonstrated his capacity to play along with the producers. Meanwhile, it’s disheartening — but not altogether surprising — that a directorial duo as gifted as Lord and Miller have been fired from the Han Solo film, since they’ve been known to fight for the creative integrity of their vision.

But it’s a loss to the “Star Wars” world, since Lord and Miller’s previous credits demonstrate the kind of unique take they might have brought to the franchise. Warner Bros. trusted the duo enough on “The Lego Movie” to let them poke fun at Batman — arguably the studio’s most precious IP, previously rendered oh-so-serious in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Lord and Miller’s minifigure Dark Knight was a brooding egomaniac and the funniest thing about that film, so much so that Warners ran with it, producing a spinoff that stretched the joke to feature length.

Sony Pictures Animation (where Lord and Miller made “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) was similarly enthusiastic about their input on Spider-Man, greenlighting the pair’s high-attitude idea for an animated movie centered around Miles Morales, the Black Hispanic superhero who took over web-slinging duties after Peter Parker’s death. Though they’re not directing, the script is said to bear their fingerprints — which it seems is exactly what Kennedy and company don’t want on the Han Solo project.

With any luck, Lord and Miller will see the “Star Wars” setback as the opportunity that it is: Rather than being forced to color within the lines of a controlling producer’s vision, they can potentially explore the more individual (dare I say, “auteurist”?) instinct they so clearly possess on a less-protected property. Heck, maybe Sony’s Spider-Man project will be the one to benefit. Or perhaps they’ll be in the enviable position of pitching an original movie. Not all directors have such a strong or clear sense of vision that they can be trusted to exert it over a massive studio tentpole, but Lord and Miller are among the few actively reshaping the comedy landscape. Now is their moment, although as Han Solo would say, “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”

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  1. Jack Monte says:

    You are out of your mind Debruge. While I rarely agree with Owen, he’s right in a round about way. Colin shouldn’t do Star Wars or anything else because Jurassic World was such garbage. Miller and Lord are hacks. Their movies are lacking any imagination beyond copying what’s come before, like a child’s mimicry. Same can be said of Rogue One, but also most of the Marvel films since Thor, to stay in the Disney arena. Studios do control the tentpoles now, but they easily can with the lack of visionary directors. They want directors they can push around. Miller and Lord were fired to cover Kennedy’s lack of vision, same as Rogue One they have no ideas of what to do with these new Star Wars films and try to figure it out as they go. Even the Universal monster universe has the same issue of hiring weak story tellers to run things in the creative department.

  2. Talon says:

    I still don’t think Lord and Miller were going for a full blown comedy. I think they’re smarter than that.

  3. This is the biggest load of gobbledygook I’ve ever heard in my life.

  4. Set Dresser says:

    This article sounds like it was written by their agent.

    Putting aside my personal opinion that the four films this pair has made so far are, once you get past their core ‘creative’ gimmick, comedic mediocrities, with hollow narratives, paint by numbers dialogue, and wafer thin character archetypes in place of actual character of any sort, if you did any sort of reaching out you’ve got to know that pretty much EVERYBODY wanted them off the film, as they refused to follow the film, as scripted, that they had signed on to and agreed to direct. Instead rewriting scenes and forcing actors to improv, resulting in a more heavily comedic approach, against all advice, and in direct opposition to what they had been hired to make. And they refused to listen or take advice or guidance from anyone, instead seeming to believe that now they were on the film they could do whatever the hell they wanted, and no one could do anything about it.

    The majority of the cast was unhappy, the writer was unhappy, the producer was unhappy, the studio was unhappy, no one thought they were doing a good job, they would take advice or course correct, though they were given multiple opportunities to do so, and they certainly weren’t doing the job that they had agreed to do, so ultimately they HAD to be fired. And, frankly, honestly, DESERVED to be.

    Part of me wishes someone would leak some of the footage online, just so the fans could see and fully appreciate just how far off the rails this had gone. Honestly, I don’t know if the film is salvageable, or if the reshoots will basically be a page one do-over (I suspect the latter) but even in its current state of flux, the film is in better hands today than it was a week ago, and at least now it has a chance again of being a worthwhile addition to the Star Wars legacy.

    Defending the artistic integrity of directors is a noble cause, but next time you might want to find out the full story before you storm that particular barricade, because sometimes, just sometimes, it is the director(s) that are the problem and that are in the wrong and acting unaccountably out of control, and not in the best interest in the film they were hired to make. And this was very much one such case. Just ask, off the record, anyone working set on this show.

  5. This article is bad and you should feel bad. Nobody wants a Han Solo comedy. The hell- nobody wants a Han Solo movie!

  6. Fernando says:

    So they directed The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street. So what? How does that earn them their stripes?

    “Visionary”. As if.

    These two stubborn guys should learn that they are GUESTS in a franchise that has been going on for decades. Does a guest tell the host what’s for dinner or how to set the table? Bad manners.

    There are so many great people in this business that are awesome to work with and would kill to have that job and be respectful and humbled.

    But nooooo Phil and Chris thought their own ‘vision’ was soooooo important and messed it up. Well done, very mature. Everyone take not: these two are still in their pubescent phase.

    And Peter Debruge, you should know by now that producers are many times also writers, directors and even all-rounders. So please don’t pretend it’s “people that only have money” that call the shots.

    Your insulting Kathleen Kennedy, who with her colleagues makes sure you have something to write about every week. So show a little respect.

  7. “Likewise, Marvel has had more success (both financially and artistically) forcing directors to conform to an inflexible set of aesthetic guidelines than it did when art-house “auteur” Ang Lee experimented with his own ideas on 2003’s “Hulk.” ”

    Except Hulk was’t made by Marvel was it? And they had the big break with the indie film Iron Ma, which Favreau made in his own style, all the way. not to mention James/ Gunn’s Guardians films and so on.

    Don’t try and act all insider knowledge and then make such basic errors as not knowing the difference between a Universal adaptation of a Marvel comic and a Marvel #Studios produced film.

    You’re also glossing over th massive influence JJ Abrams had on Force Awakens.

  8. Sencho says:

    Proving once again that we can do away with paid movie critics for the useless artifacts they are, this one hasn’t seen the movie yet he still wants to opine on whether its directors should have been canned.

  9. John says:

    Good article, with valid points. In this case, “Han Solo” would be best off letting Kathleen Kennedy direct rest of the film – all problems solved.

  10. Jacqyes Strappe says:

    Oh, ye of little faith. If the creative powers that be who have a collective vision for Star Wars thought that Lord and Miller were not right for this project, why can’t their gut instinct count? If the Hans Solo film were a comedy then Lord and Miller might have been the appropriate choice but these are not juvenile comedies and the Star Wars films are no longer written only for American audiences when more than half of the box office receipts come from international markets who probably don’t get the juvenile Lord and Miller brand of humor. Let them direct a Lego version of Star Wars.

    • Your Lord & Miller comments are massively ill informed. They’re respected because their comedy is clever, witty and full of heart, as well as throwing in the broad based jokes her and there. Their humour travels very well as 3 of their four films have made 42% – 49% of their gross outside America. Notably 22 Jump #Street jumping to 42% from 31% for 21 Jump Street.

  11. paully says:

    I just had a thunderbolt.. Tarintino could quickly recut this in something crazy and maybe good!

    • Ron Obvious says:

      Did you even read the article? Hiring a talented, independent visionary is exactly what Lucasfilm is trying to avoid.

  12. paully says:

    There going to have bring in a name director to calm everyone both investors and geeks..

  13. Linda says:

    The only reason why I felt remotely excited for a Han Solo prequel story was because of Lord and Miller.

    EVERYONE had gone “WTF?” at the idea that LucasFilm under Disney would think that would even be a remotely smart one. How the hell can anyone step into a role so iconic and not be Harrison Ford? He IS Han.

    If you’re making a story of how Han became a scoundrel, there should be some liberties taken since that’s literally the point of making a goddamn prequel.

    Kasdan may like having things done by the book but some of the best lines for Han happened to be Harrison done by improvisation. Sure a writer can provide great source material but if someone can actually improve on a setting or providing quips, try it out. It’s Star Wars, not Shakespeare.

    Having “fresh perspective” for a well known franchise such as Star Wars is needed. Yes, Lawrence Kasdan and Kathleen Kennedy may have been with these movies for a long period of time, but it doesn’t mean their views will always work, especially if you want to expand your reach to the masses and reach out to the “millennials” as old people like to call us. It’s pretty sad that you need to make PP presentations about “cool hunting” and how to trend on social media.

    Sure the Force Awakens and Rogue One did AMAZING, but it doesn’t mean they can have new blood injected to their formula.

    They’ve literally dealt with this type of firing before through ‘Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs’ before they were also brought back into the fold after being fired and had good reception. Same with the Jump Street reboot and the Lego Movie. Most people thought these films were going to fail until they realized the brilliance of their trademark use for meta comedy for more of today’s “target demographics” and had been incredibly well received.

    Why did they even bother to make those two film for 5 months and sack them? This not only puts the production in jeopardy, but think about the wasted time and finances you sank down the toilet.

    Hell I didn’t even want Lord and Miller on this unnecessary film. I wanted them to make the Flash movie. Look at the tweets!

  14. godzilla502 says:

    The guys PR team was well out in front of this story to already have a pro-Fired Guys story in the trades.

    Do you know how hard it is for DGA directors to be fired? It’s incredibly hard. It’s more rare than a Trump supporter at a Black Caucus meeting in San Francisco.

    What that means was that not only were the guys not doing their job properly, they weren’t changing their ways and left no alternative but to be fired.

    In short, they felt they were BIGGER than the movie.

    You step onto 21 Jump Street, you can create your own world. When you step onto Han Solo, you’re stepping into a world already established that has rules, tone, look, feel, etc.

    In short (part 2), it’s not YOUR film. You work for someone and if they tell you to do something, you do it. And like most working people, if your boss tells you to do something a certain way – and you don’t – you get fired.

    • mwillsonid says:

      For one: these discussions about process should’ve happened early in pre-production. They should’ve figured out earlier how they wanted to film it and decided if their processes were going to be a good fit for each other.

      Secondly: 21 jump street was already an established universe too. It was not as popular as star wars, even in its time, so if *that* is your issue, we can discuss “pop culture relevance” as a work-defining characteristic of a new entry in an established franchise. Not simply “established universe” but rather “how universally beloved” is a better metric to judge by, I think.

    • jedi77 says:

      Hit the nail right on the head there.
      It’s an established world. And I for one don’t want a ” pop-savvy self-aware” Han Solo movie. Are you high?

      Han Solo the movie, should be serious, with sardonic undertones, and a dash of black humour. It should most certainly be devoid of pop references, and it should be made within the boundaries that are The Star Wars Aesthetic.

      • Jayson Deare says:

        These guys could have made a great funny, witty, Star Wars Comedy however that movie is not Han Solo. You are signing on to direct one of the movies that is about a major character that we have seen and that we know up until a few years or even moments before Episode 4. Sorry you don’t get to do what you want. If this was a spin off starring Ryan Reynolds as Wade Solo than maybe.

        They got fired because they did not do their job on a franchise and I am sorry the Lego Movie and the Jump Street series don’t prove anything when it comes to having free reign on the set you have earned a space where you have free reign. Deliver a franchise movie while in putting some of your sensibilities then guess what they may have let you do your own movie with your own characters doing whatever you want.

        James Gunn is the best example of how to do this he shot some scenes showed them to Feige and they said we love it do more like this. Instead of saying it’s our way or the high way

  15. zxcvb says:

    I’ll trust Lawrence Kasdan and Kathleen Kennedy over Lord & Miller any day. L&M are very funny, quirky talents, but they are not Spielberg or Scorsese. Experience and knowledge matters.

    Also, this idea that Lucasfilm suppresses all authorial voice is ludicrous.

    The Force Awakens is absolutely a “JJ Abrams film” and received outstanding reviews (92% RT, 8.2/10 avg rating). Rogue One was largely reshot…and is still unquestionably a grittier, more “realistic” SW film than any before it. And from what we’ve seen of The Last Jedi (trailer, photos, leaked story points/scenes), it is absolutely a “Rian Johnson film.”

    The mistake was bringing Lord & Miller aboard in the first place. They’re very talented, but they’re not right for Han Solo. The project always needed an “old school” director.

  16. Martin says:

    The thing is…Either Rogue one or Civil War were miles better than the awfulness that was LaLa Land. Indie movies can be just as formulaic and not nearly as fun.

  17. EK says:

    Ever hear of brevity? Making the same points over and over in different ways reflects the definition of insanity. VARIETY readers are smart enough to get it the first time. The “think piece” is old hat in 2017 unless there’s really something to think about.

  18. Nozel says:

    Help me out here: the whole article critiques the tendency for writer-producers to have more creative input than directors only to end on the hope that Lord and Miller will be able to leave their creative mark on Spider-man—a film on which they’re serving as writer-producers?

  19. jinchoung says:

    considering what the prequels turned out to be, marsha lucas, gary kurtz and later kasdan, leigh brackett, kershner, etc seem to have done a HELL of a lot to reign in george for the originals. — re: current situation – fact of the matter is, these gigantic franchises don’t need a name director. they’ve already got their gigantic, nifty, electric train set all decked out just the way they want it and all they have to do is push a button for it to start hauling in car fulls of cash. the studio just wants someone to push that button in exactly the way they want it pushed… director gets paid and gets associated with gigantic property X and the studios get to check off the director position with a name that makes it sounds like this wasn’t just a giant autonomous machine. it seems like we’re in the day of the producer as a kind of “show runner”. kevin feige has been doing a fantastic job of that making the marvel cinematic universe a cohesive whole with all the pieces shining on their own and contributing to the whole. i really think he became the one man model for a new way of doing business (or maybe bringing it back from the days of the moguls). and i have a feeling disney wants to follow the same model with star wars. today, if directors want creative control, it really does seem like they have to start with something less (or non) established so that there’s some give for them to make a mark on to begin with… or become a cinematic “show runner”.

  20. Machiavelli76 says:

    Although …I see where you are coming from….in this era 2010’s of filmmaking..( reboots, remakes, sequels or pulling from the 1970s Star Wars period)… What you just saw was a WRITER getting he final say on a project..which as we enter into the 2020’s of filmmaking will begin to become more of the normal. Writers for years are tired of writing everything and then being told the Director will be going a different direction…but you still get paid. We have slowly started to realize that the one that literally is he reason for the film in the first place is ….a writer & if your a director with no ability to do just that on a project ..( this one for example) you need to leave or be replaced…. END OF STORY…. 2020’s will be the writers time to shine…..

  21. Beamish13 says:

    “Few animators have made the leap(!) to live-action”. Err, ever heard of Frank Tashlin, Tim Burton, and Terry Gilliam?

  22. Les says:

    The thing is: Disney is not spending hundreds of millions of dollars so that Lord/Miller can scratch their creative itch. Even with this setback, Lord/Miller can happily go on with their careers. Kennedy, on the other hand, has a whole series of Star Wars films to shepherd. The Han Solo film has to fit the Star War series’ sensibility, not vice versa. This is why the Bond series never hires auteur directors. Part of the blame has to go on Kennedy for hiring Lord/Miller in the first place.

  23. Tomas says:

    It’s worth noting that while George Lucas handpicked Kershner for Empire Strikes Back, he hated Empire through all stages of development. If it wasn’t for Producer Gary Kurtz backing Kershner Lucas would have fired him and made a very different movie. By putting his own stamp on the franchise we got the best Star Wars movie to date. When the more malleable Richard Marquand was brought in we simply got more Death Stars and Ewoks.

  24. CJB says:

    Perhaps Ms. Kennedy understands that there is an audience for her films that’s older than 13?

  25. StarWarsFan says:

    Great article and agree: it’s the fans who lose when the old school refuses to let go and tries to force new creative talent to bend to their will. Lord/Miller would have brought so much to a new generation of Star Wars films. It’s a shame that they weren’t given the chance to do what they were hired to do.

    • Leon Alvarado says:

      StarWarsFan, here’s a thing about what you refer to as old school. Star Wars is old school. I’m sure the first installment came out way before these guys were even born and a millennia before you were born. I liked the Lego Movie a lot. 21 Jump Street? It was bad and their other outings are just ok (quality-wise) at best. Firing them was bad but hiring them in the first place was worst. Star Wars has a precedent, it has a look, feel and a tone to it’s universe and that has been going on since 1977. George Lucas who invented it, almost destroyed with his horrible prequels.

      I am sure that Lord and MIller will have the chance to direct many more movies that will be better suited for their style. Hollywood always has been a business. These days their slate is filled with remakes, reboots and sequels because the new audiences do not want to take the time to invest in newer properites. They want something that already has a brand name attached to it. Is that or ridiculously silly franchises like the Fast and The Furious movies. I would have never hired the two directors for a Star Wars movie. I hear the studio is talking to Ron Howard to step in and that would be very good. He has the appropriate sensibility as a director.

      One thing we must remember is that the prequels that George Lucas did made a lot of money upon their release (mainly because of his name and the Star Wars brand). However, after the fad wore out many fans were left hating those movies, (myself being one of them). The look of the movies was great but didn’t fit well with the time period and the story line. How come the ships in the past were so much sleeker and advance than those in the future? How is it that R2D2 could fly? Why did every human looked as if they took downers before speaking their lines? How many storylines within a whole universe could be tied up to a single person, (Anakin)? Why Jar, Jar? There were a million things wrong with those awful movies and yet, they were done by the original creator.

      What Disney has done is bring the franchise back to its home. They kept everything that made the original trilogy famous. More practical sets and less CGI stuff. Film over digital (at least for the principal photography portions). The design of the worlds/props/ships/costumes, etc. They brought back chemistry among the main characters and a dialogue that is far less serious. They have carefully crafted the movies to retain the essence of the original trilogy. We must remember that Star Wars always looked great and we loved the chemistry between the characters. But none of the movies were amazing in regards of the story. I don’t even think they were ever meant to be. It’s pop culture at its best, not a life changing movie experience. The studio managed to reboot the series while avoiding to disassociate it from the original. To think of it, it’s a brilliant move.

  26. millerfilm says:

    This really helped in answering the question: How can someone who’s only directed a $1 million movie magically be “ready” to direct a $150 million movie? The answer: they aren’t ready, and they’re only directing the smaller part of it.

    • TheRealMonty says:

      Except you’re totally wrong because the guy they got to direct Jurassic World (also $150 mil budget) had no experience at all.

      Lord/Miller are fantastic writers, they’ll do fine. The traditional movie studio system is dying, blockbusters are crashing and bombing everywhere. If these Hollywood dinosaurs don’t figure out how to adapt and change they’re going to gown down with the sinking ship.

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