Benching a director for massive reshoots isn’t the norm, but not all that rare an occurrence. Firing directors midway through shooting? That’s something entirely different. The Star Wars universe was rocked yesterday with the announcement Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired as the directors from the Han Solo spinoff that’s still set for next May.
‘Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon,’ Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement on Starwars.com.
In the same post, Lord and Miller said the dreaded ‘creative differences’ were the culprit.
‘Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew,’ stated Lord and Miller.
There’s a ton of rumors as to who should shoulder the blame. Was it Lord & Miller for having a more freewheeling approach to the material by co-writer Lawrence Kasdan? Or should Kennedy figured out the duo weren’t the best fit long before the film was in the middle of production. Josh Trank quit/got shown the door from a Star Wars spin off project not long after he started dissing the final edit to his Fantastic Four remake.
Gareth Edwards more or less was sat on the sidelines while Tony Gilroy was brought in to complete massive reshoots for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That actually turned out pretty well for Lucasfilm and parent company Walt Disney Pictures. With Rogue One at No. 22 on the all-time highest grossing films list ($1.05 billion) that wasn’t a bad call. And with Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens at No. 3 ($2.06 billion), Kennedy has earned Disney’s trust.
Maybe the biggest takeaway for Star Wars fans is Kennedy has a firm vision for Star Wars. And she’s bold enough to make the necessary changes even a Death Star style obliteration of the directors to see that vision play out. Like Kevin Feige with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kennedy is the end-all, be-all for all things Star Wars.
The last high profile film to lose a director midway through production? Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man after Edgar Wright left. Feige insisted the film would not be delayed and would be released as scheduled. The end result turned out better than anyone could have expected under the circumstances. An Ant-Man sequel is underway and set for 2018.
Rogue One was essentially a one-off movie. Han Solo is much more important for Disney. There’s a potential new Star Wars trilogy at stake. Han Solo is arguably the most beloved non-Jedi in the series and his prequel trilogy could net big bucks for Disney. And that’s easily worth the kneejerk bad PR news cycle for a greater success in the future.