The failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story clearly rattled Disney and Lucasfilm. It’s still almost unbelievable that anyone could make a movie about Han Solo – one of the most beloved Star Wars characters – and have it lose $50 million at the box office.
That’s exactly what happened though and it led to Disney promptly putting the brakes on their plans to release a Star Wars film every year, with CEO Bob Iger explaining that the franchise would be on “a bit of a hiatus” after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The direct consequences of this were that further Anthology projects were either cancelled or repurposed as Disney Plus shows. But what went wrong?
Well, predictably, the behind-the-scenes drama turns out to have been far more interesting than that on screen. Veteran writer Lawrence Kasdan, credited for penning The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, spoke candidly about what went down at the Austin Film Festival and it seems that his involvement in Disney’s Sequel Trilogy was reluctant from the off.
When Kathleen Kennedy asked him to write The Force Awakens (before it was even announced that Disney would be purchasing the IP), Kasdan bluntly told her:
“It[Star Wars] has been very good to me, but I don’t want to do it anymore.”
However, following a meeting with George Lucas, Kasdan agreed to help with The Force Awakens (along with J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt) on the basis that he would go on to write Solo with his son Jonathan – Han Solo being his favorite Star Wars character. But it doesn’t sound like it was smooth sailing. Despite contributing to The Force Awakens‘ script, Kasdan refused to read it, going so far as to turn away the messenger bringing the final copy.
“I never saw this poor messenger they sent. I said, ‘I can’t take it.’ I didn’t want to sit down and read someone else’s Star Wars movie. I’m just not interested in Star Wars. Don’t think for a second I don’t know how lucky I am that they’re sending a Star Wars script to my door and I can say, ‘No, I won’t accept it.’ You have to be in a very privileged situation to do that, and I don’t ever take that for granted.”
In retrospect, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose someone who proclaims to not be interested in Star Wars to write Solo. Nonetheless, Kasdan describes his and Jonathan’s screenwriting process as “a very good experience.” But the rest of the production was not, as Lawrence said:
“Then the studio blew it. But that’s not unusual.”
He’s no doubt referring to Lucasfilm’s unexpected firing of original Solo: A Star Wars Story directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller midway through production. While replacement director Ron Howard didn’t exactly do a bad job, you can’t help but assume that Lord and Miller’s version would have been a far more interesting (and probably more successful) movie.
In any case, it sounds like Kasdan is done for good with Star Wars, and I doubt he’s going to be losing any sleep over it.