Ron Howard to Take Over as Director of ‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff

Ron Howard
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Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard will take over as director of the “Star Wars” Han Solo spinoff, Lucasfilm announced.

His hire comes after the movie’s original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired Tuesday, while in the middle of production after clashing with producer and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer/executive producer Lawrence Kasdan. The duo, who had previously overseen “The LEGO Movie” and “21 Jump Street,” wanted to inject more humor into the storyline and encouraged improvisation, something Kasdan did not appreciate.

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Howard will begin work immediately. The picture still has several weeks left on its shooting schedule, and five additional weeks of pre-scheduled reshoots that were planned for later this year. The exact amount of time and money that it will take to actually complete the production (which was about three-quarters finished when the directors were fired), will vary depending on how much rewriting and reshooting Howard deems is necessary after reviewing the script and shot footage.

Later in the day he tweeted he was happy to accept the job:

It is unclear just how Howard will be credited and whether he will share directing credit with Lord and Miller, or potentially take no credit at all (though that seems unlikely). Lord and Miller have the right to appeal any decision, but ultimately, the Directors Guild of America will make the call.

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Howard previously worked with Lucasfilm  on 1988’s “Willow,” a fantasy adventure that garnered two technical Ocscar nominations (visual effects and sound editing) but was a box office disappointment. Howard’s credits also include hits such as “Parenthood,” “Splash,” “Backdraft,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Apollo 13” and  2001’s “A Beautiful Mind,” about the brilliant, anti-social mathematician John Nash, which won four top Academy Awards including best director and best picture.

These days, however, the former child actor is in need of a big hit. He’s had a string of duds that include “Inferno,” “In the Heart of the Sea,” “Rush,” and “The Dilemma.” His last significant success was 2009’s “Angels & Demons.”

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  1. Just because Rush wasn’t a commercial success doesn’t qualify it as a “dud”. It’s actually a good movie. Of course it’s easier to make sweeping generalizations, even though it’s misleading and bad journalism. A “dud“ is a mediocre or bad film that fails to live up to box office projections. A good film that doesn’t make a ton of money would be more accurately described as “a film that failed to find an audience.”

  2. Timely Comment says:

    I guess “Opie” has been folded into the DISNEY conglomerate with him replacing over Lord and Miller.

    Interested how his styling would serve the Han Solo solo movie. Thought his bid for OSCAR™ Americana with APOLLO 13 didn’t go to plan, but his people-focused “humanism” of his movies make the HS film more interesting with their emphasis on characters in the SW Saga…

    (And I guess Lord and Miller will go on to make that Flash and LEGO™ movies across the film street with WARNER BROS.)

  3. Daniel says:

    Great director. The movie should be good.

  4. Joseph says:

    Opie likes sloppy seconds. I guess this makes up for “The Alamo.”

  5. Prime says:

    Great move for Lucasfilm. I never liked the idea of fratbro comedy directors taking on a Star Wars project. Han Solo just got an Oscar winner to pinch hit in the ninth inning.

  6. Weary says:

    It is doomed now.

  7. paully says:

    Ron Howard you should start rewatching old Akira Kurosawa films immediately.. See if you can “homage” some of his great action and interpersonal scenes ..
    For the criminal angle tap The Godfather and Lupin the 3rd..
    You Go Tiger..

  8. paully says:

    It has been mentioned that HS will make $500 million regardless.. But..

    Ron Opie Richie Taylor Cunningham Howard, you were put on this green Earth to do 1 thing — Make this Han Solo movie the Very Best Star Wars film of all time!! You have the skills (latent it seems) to do the job.. Go get em’ Tiger and please please please Avoid The Blandness you sometimes can slip into..

  9. Tom says:

    #4 Star Wars was excellent. #5 passable. #6 a repeat of #3 (another death star) The 5 new ones unwatchable. All Howard can do for this is interest grown ups in the reviews.

  10. Messiahman says:

    From the director of THE DA VINCI CODE… comes the origin story that no one asked for!

  11. JOE S HILL says:

    Going from the days of “THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW” to “HAPPY DAYS”, Ron Howard has been given the opportunity that few former child and teen actors are ever afforded-transitioning into an Academy Award-winning movie director, and this Disney/Lucasfilm project has now been given a seriously great chance under his expert and creative direction, giving this “HAN SOLO” project the serious potential to be big and successful, a really WISE move!

  12. DigiDezman says:

    Referring to Ron Howard as a “former child actor” sounds petty and seems clueless as to his more recent accomplishments on the part of journalist Brent Lang, former editor of his high school newspaper.

  13. Janice says:

    Actually, he did the Beatles documentary “8 Days a week” and it’s the best music documentary I’ve ever seen.

  14. Rob Okray says:

    Like it or not these movies are a franchise. By nature they are formulaic. Seems like Ron is the man of the hour.

  15. Messiahman says:

    This is safest. dullest choice imaginable. Howard’s absolute best films are generically adequate and lacking in any sort of distinctive voice. He’s an unremarkable workman. Anyone who considers him a “great” director likely considers Applebees to be a fine dining experience.

  16. Rudy Mario says:

    Diasyer waiting to happen. Ron is past his prime unfortunately. Gets worse if it has a lot of brits/English in the starcast. The combo has given monumental flops Sad.

  17. Set Dresser says:

    Putting aside my own 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 Variety 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 wouldn’t 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 before doing so people in positions of influence might want to find out the full story before they 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.

    Ron Howard will bring the steady hand that this project so desperately needs right now, but frankly I’d be amazed if the majority of the dialogue heavy scenes weren’t entirely reshoot more accurately in keeping with the script. Still, that is a situation that only those few with edit bay access will be in a position to accurately judge.

    • Alby Beck says:

      And a little over a day later everything said above seems to be getting confirmed by various outlets. Sometimes the directors really are the problem. I’m glad they were fired, here’s hoping the film doesn’t suffer for their arrogance, hubris and egotism, and Ron Howard is able to get it all back on track.

    • Messiahman says:

      Kathleen… stop posting on Variety and get back to producing. Your film’s going up in flame!

      • Set Dresser says:

        I wish I had her money and influence, but after nearly three decades I’m still basically just a worker bee. One of the names in the credits that nobody, other than friends and family, notices or reads.

        Besides, if someone with her power, influence and connections wanted to get a certain message or point of view across, I doubt it would be on a Variety message board.

        People don’t have to believe the above, people on the outside will pick sides and make value judgements on those involved and who ‘must’ be to blame, like they always do, but to quote a certain smuggler and scoundrel, it’s all true, all of it.

  18. Kinoeye says:

    It’s strange that they didn’t like the idea of improvisation, considering that some of Solo’s best moments in the OT came from Ford improvising lines on the set. (“We’re all fine here, thank you, how are you?” and “I know”)

    But I suppose instead of having a sense of fun and exploration, this will just be another heavy-handed, everything’s got to fit into the extended universe bore. Sounds great!

  19. Leon Alvarado says:

    Ron Howard is a great director who also happens to have been in the business for most his entire life. I think he should had been the studio’s first choice to being with. The longevity of the Star Wars series is due more than anything to the chemistry between the characters and the looks of everything. The stories are basic bubble-gum space opera stuff but the ones we really liked are those were the characters gel with each other and delivered the dialogue in a compelling manner. Ron Howard understands brilliantly how relationships can develop quickly into the plot line as he has done it many times. As much as I enjoyed the Lego movie, it was what it was, a cartoon movie with cartoon dialogue and cartoon characters.

    One thing is to create a movie with some bits of humor into it and other is to fill it with jokes and defeat the original purpose. For example, Raiders of The Lost Ark is a movie that had the involvement of Lawrence Kasdan and Kathleen Kennedy. It combined action with drama and humor that perfectly balanced each other. The end result is a very memorable and enjoyable movie. Despite the fact that the story plot keeps getting farther and farther out of reality’s grasp, you keep enjoying yourself until the end. Actually, the Indiana Jones series didn’t get bad up until they decide to stuff Indy in a fridge and explode a nuclear bomb by him, only to see him survive to reach extraterrestrial aliens somewhere in Peru. Ok George (Lucas), you found how to rip the envelope on that one and in the process ruined another great series that you started.

    But back to Howard, he’l make this movie shine and his name will get back on top of the list afterwards. I enjoyed Rush a whole lot but it was a movie that would appeal mostly to Formula 1 fans as many movie-going public were not familiar with the real story. Apollo 13th, Cocoon, Splash and Backdraft were all great examples of how well he can get the cast to portray compelling characters. I think he’s just what the Han Solo movie needs.

  20. Cheryl H says:

    Why are people congratulating Disney for anything? It sounds like Kennedy and Kasden made the decision, not Disney. Just because something is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a corporate giant doesn’t mean the parent company gets involved in every decision made by it’s subsidiary company. Kennedy and Kasden were the ones clashing with the directors.

  21. Sean Randall says:

    The idea that improvisation is the big no-no for a film about Han Solo is incredibly idiotic. Perhaps Lawrence Kasdan is annoyed that perhaps Han Solo’s most well-known line was improvised in “Empire Strikes Back”?

  22. Jacques Strappe says:

    Whose idea was it in the first place that juvenile junk food movies like The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street on one’s resume were qualifications to handle one of the greatly anticipated offshoots of the storied Star Wars movie franchise? Thanks, Disney for recognizing this error and bringing in an adult director with some significant credibility.

  23. Unknown says:

    First off, ‘Rush’ wasn’t a dud. It was a critically well-received hit. Box-Office doesn’t dictate what’s a quality film. History has proven that immensely.

    Also, you forgot one of Howard’s most critically acclaimed films, ‘Frost/Nixon’ which is consensually one of his best directorial films.

  24. John says:

    Love Ron Howard, great recovery by Disney, he’s liked by his peers in the industry and not a confrontational person. Good PR move too.

  25. Awesome – a GREAT director

  26. SmartMFer says:

    Step aside junior and let the professionals go to work.

  27. Simon Paul says:

    Rush was not a dud. Fantastic film. I’m more than happy to have the Director of such greats like Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind direct a Star Wars film. Especially since Kasdan and his son are the writers.

  28. millerfilm says:

    His docudramas are great! (“Apollo 13,” “Rush”). His other movies? Not so much. I’m sure that it’s Empress Kathleen Kennedy’s hope that Howard is scared of “strong women” and heels to the Corporate Mistress that is her Lucasfilm (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney). :-)

    • RBarker says:

      Misogynistic much? Wow.

    • Unknown says:

      His other films? Not so much? WTF? Howard has a sizable list of solid films in his filmography than just ‘Apollo 13’ & ‘Rush’. The critical consensus says otherwise with such films as ‘A Beautiful Mind’, ‘Backdraft’, ‘Frost/Nixon’, ‘Splash’, ‘Cocoon’, ‘Parenthood’, & so forth.

      • Leon Alvarado says:

        Ron Howard has more than shown his capabilities as a great director. He won two academy awards for A Beautiful Mind. He directed some very recognizable movies like: Night Shift, Splash, Cocoon, Gung Ho, Willow Parenthood, Backdraft, The Paper, Apollo 13, Ransom, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon, Angels & Demons, Rush and The Beatles: Eight Days a Week documentary. As an actor he was in business since 1959, he has been in the business for 58 years, (since he was 5). It is not a matter of being scared of “strong women” as you say as much as understanding the business decisions that have to be made in order to keep the franchise a viable and recognizable one. Hollywood movies are big business and tent-pole franchises are big business. Ron Howard understand the business end of it and I am sure his communication skills will let him do his job to his and the studio’s satisfaction. It is a great move by the studio. One that could had been avoided by not hiring Lord and Miller to begin with.

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