No matter how Solo: A Star Wars Story eventually turns out, there’ll always be the nagging question of what it could have been.
After all, three weeks before shooting was scheduled to conclude, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the production and replaced with Ron Howard, about as safe a choice of a director as you can get. Given that Lord and Miller have achieved success after success with a very distinctive comedic style, it was natural to wonder just what the hell was going through Disney and Lucasfilm’s heads. After all, they must have known what they were getting into when they hired them, right?
Well, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has just given an interview to EW and it looks like they didn’t know anything about how Lord and Miller worked before bringing them on board:
“I think these guys are hilarious, but they come from a background of animation and sketch comedy and when you are making these movies you can do that and there’s plenty of room for improvisation, we do that all the time, but it has to be inside of a highly structured process or you can’t get the work done and you can’t move the armies of people to anticipate and have things ready. So, it literally came down to process. Just getting it done… These are really great guys and you know, nobody wanted this to happen. It was just one of those unfortunate things.”
Ron Howard, brought in to steady the ship, chipped in as well, saying:
“I know Chris and Phil. They’re incredibly talented guys, and all anyone at Imagine Entertainment wants to do is find a way to work with Chris and Phil, and that’s every bit as much the case today as ever. But when I learned that this change was happening, it just came in a moment where I was working on lots of new projects for Imagine, and I had not planned to direct anything last year. So then this came my way, and I was talking to Kathy, and the now tragically late Alli Shearmur, an old friend. I was reluctant, but I also began to feel that I could help.”
“It’s disappointing that any company ever feels like they have to make a change like that. It’s rough on everybody and disappointing for everybody, and I’ve just tried to come in and — of course, Phil and Chris’s fingerprints are all over the movie, given how much they put into it and the time they put into it. I hope fans won’t even think about how the movie was made. They should just lose themselves in it.”
Well, fair enough, but you’d think a Disney-led production in the biggest franchise in cinematic history would have realized much of this before they’d started production – or for that matter, before even hiring Lord and Miller in the first place. You’d assume there’d be sit down meetings, too, where Lucasfilm lay out what they want the project to be and Lord and Miller explain what they’d like to do with the property and how they’re going to achieve it.
From the sounds of this, it looks as if they were pretty much winging it, then freaking out when they saw the rushes and realized they’ve hired the two hottest contemporary comedy directors and they’ve turned out *shock* a comedy. Having said all that, Rogue One had a similarly torturous production, with the film essentially being taken away from Gareth Edwards and given to writer/director Tony Gilroy in order to rejig the story.
I, and many others, thought that was an omen of doom, but Rogue One was excellent. So, let’s hope Solo: A Star Wars Story follows in its footsteps. After all, if it’s a flop, then I think we might see some heads roll at Lucasfilm…