If the Han Solo spinoff is the kind of blockbuster that most box office sages predict it will be, a lot of people will be taking credit for its success.
It’s not clear, however, who officially will get the nod for bringing the Star Wars smuggler’s early days to the big screen, particularly after the abrupt firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller late in the shooting necessitated an 11th hour change of directors. On Thursday, Lucasfilm announced that Ron Howard will replace the duo, but how credit will be meted out is still being discussed.
The Directors Guild of America, which has the ultimate authority, has refused to comment on Lord and Miller’s surprise firings. Several sources said the credits issue is unlikely to be resolved for several months and that the union is taking a methodical approach to resolving how the different filmmakers’ contributions will be acknowledged.
Lord and Miller were dismissed due to creative differences in the fourth month of production after clashing with producer and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer/executive producer Lawrence Kasdan. Howard, who’s a DGA national board member, was announced as the replacement on Thursday morning. Production will resume on July 10 and the untitled movie is still due to be released on May 25, 2018.
It’s not the first time that directors have been dismissed while in production. Curtis Hanson, for example, had to step down as the director of “Chasing Mavericks” due to health issues. He ultimately shared a directing credit with Michael Apted, the filmmaker brought in to finish the project.
However, the high profile nature of the Han Solo spinoff and the fact that production is relatively far along are complicating factors, making this uncharted territory for the DGA to navigate. Sources have told Variety that the current scenario is very rare and is unlikely to be settled soon since the movie requires re-shoots this summer and extensive work in post-production due to special effects.
Disney-Lucasfilm, Howard, Lord and Miller have also not commented on the issue of who will get the directing credit. Studio sources say they will defer to the guild’s rules.
The specific language in the DGA’s basic agreement with production companies spells out that in a situation with multiple directors, the production company will make a determination of who will be credited and then notify the directors. At that point, any of the notified directors can appeal to the DGA.
“The Guild may then determine the issue,” the provision says.
The provision also says that if DGA fails to reach a decision, the employer shall make the determination and that decision will be final. The language does not specify when a production company needs to make its notification of the directors other than prior to the release of the film.
The DGA’s rules also preclude replacing the director with someone else already employed on the movie. That prevented Disney-Lucasfilm from naming Lawrence Kasdan as the new director despite his extensive experience in the director’s chair. That rule dates back to the firing of Philip Kaufman from 1976’s “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” In that case, Clint Eastwood, the star of the film, took over behind-the-camera duties, inciting an uproar.
The DGA has a “one director” rule but that provision covers established directing teams such as Lord and Miller, who also received the directing credit on “The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street” and “22 Jump Street.”