Solo: A Star Wars Story will hit theaters this Memorial Day weekend. It’s the second spin-off to be released as a part of the Star Wars anthology series. While it is projected to be a box office hit, the film has had its behind-the-scenes problems. The top being Phil Lord and Chris Miller‘s exit from directing the film due to creative differences. Though Lucasfilm was able to find Ron Howard as their replacement, details on the Lord and Miller split from Lucasfilm were bound to come out sooner or later.
Now we are finding out more about what happened and the costs of those reshoots – 70% of which came from Howard. Check out what they had to say below.
These details came to us from Variety, who wrote an exclusive piece on Howard’s rescue and what happened between Lord and Miller and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. In it, we get a sense of how creative differences played a part in their departure.
Here’s what a source had to say about how Lord and Miller’s ideas were almost always overruled:
“In their minds, Phil and Chris were hired to make a movie that was unexpected and would take a risk, not something that would just service the fans. They wanted it to be fresh, new, emotional, surprising and unique. These guys looked at Han as a maverick, so they wanted to make a movie about a maverick. But at every turn, when they went to take a risk, it was met with a no.”
Kennedy wasn’t the only one Lord and Miller clashed with. The two also butted heads with Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, the film’s writers. There were various reports that the two deviated from the original script and often relied on experimentation and improvisation.
For Lawrence Kasdan the issue involved tone:
“Tone is everything to me. That’s what movies are made of. But this was a very complicated situation. When you go to work in the morning on a ‘Star Wars’ movie, there are thousands of people waiting for you, and you have to be very decisive and very quick about it. When you are making those split-second decisions — and there are a million a day — then you are committing to a certain tone. If the [producers] think that isn’t the tone of the movie, you’re going to have trouble. It may not always end this way, but no one was happy about it. It was agony.”
But proving just how complicated all of this was, even his son Jon Kasdan had a different perspective on the matter:
“The issues we were having were much more in the bones and practical. Chris and Phil did everything they could to make it work, as did we. The questions only became about how to make the movie most efficiently in the time we had to do it.”
This proved to be one costly mistake, according to one anonymous source close to the production:
“I got a lot of overtime [under Lord and Miller], which ultimately was their downfall. The first assistant director brokers that with production. He ultimately went to the well one too many times, and Kathleen Kennedy blew up.”
However, once Howard stepped in as Lord and Miller’s replacement, everything seemed to return to order. That too proved to be very costly as about 85% of what Lord and Miller had filmed was re-shot, with Howard, again, ending up responsible for about 70% of the final film. This would help him receive solo – sorry for the pun – directing credit, while Lord and Miller were given executive producer credits. Per Variety, “with the reshoots, the movie wound up costing more than $250 million.”
As for how efficient Howard was with the production, “one second unit sequence took up half the stage space” and took only a fraction of the time when compared to Lord and Miller’s methods.
So when Kennedy approached Howard with the proposition that he direct the film, he found it flattering. At the same time, he knew that he would be stepping in for a fan-favorite directing pair. But one thing he never strayed away from in the original script is the darker aesthetics:
“He inherited one of the darker aesthetics of any “Star Wars” film to date; it was one he embraced all the same. Lord and Miller had conjured a gritty, grimy palette reflective of the seedy underbelly of conniving crooks, battle-weary war deserters and ruthless criminal syndicates on display.”
Howard also refined the script with the Kasdans. He wanted the action sequences to be “cool, fast, fun, and surprising,” but he also wanted to explore the idea of Solo being tested.
Alden Ehrenreich, who plays Han Solo in the film, had this to say about the approach:
“Just like in a biopic, the main thing is that pretty soon into the movie you’re really just involved with this story and these characters, and that’s the most important thing. Your job is the same as in any other movie: to make the scene work and make it feel like a real person.”
Harrison Ford, who made the character famous, did provide some creative advice for Ehrenreich early on during the production of the film. And it appears that it has his seal of approval. “I had never heard Harrison effusive about anything, and he was raving about it,” Howard says. “He said, ‘Alden nailed it. He made it his own.’”
Even George Lucas had a hand in the development of the film. During the production, he provided some creative input and choices the character would have made. Much of which was put into consideration.
You can read the full piece at Variety. And don’t forget to check out our review and much more on Solo including interviews from the film’s press conference and trailers.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on May 25, 2018.