Phil Lord and Chris Miller create subversive, referential films that often poke fun at conventional Hollywood notions. Their movies always remind you that you’re watching a movie. Lord and Miller are visionary directives with a distinctive voice, who will maintain their unique perspective regardless of the situation. They did so on 21 Jump Street and a giant studio tentpole like Lego Movie. It appears they were doing the same on the untitled Han Solo anthology film, and Lucasfilm executives weren’t fans. Lord and Miller were fired from directing the movie Tuesday. Reports have surfaced over creative clashes on set between the Lord/Miller duo with producer Kathleen Kennedy, other Lucasfilm team members, and executive producer/screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.
Here is what Kennedy, who is also president of Lucasfilm, said in a statement: “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.”
Meanwhile, a statement from Lord and Miller read: “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.”
So just what the hell is going on here? The film has been shooting since February in London and was reportedly weeks away from finishing. Reshoots were already scheduled for later this summer, as is expected with a giant action movie like this one, but it remains highly suspicious and perplexing just why Lord and Miller were fired.
A Variety source says Kennedy and Kasdan did not agree with how Lord and Miller engaged with cast and crew. Their shooting style and process were not in line with what the studio expected. As the source said, “It was a culture clash from day one. [Kennedy] didn’t even like the way they folded their socks.” Also adding: “They weren’t given the leeway to do what they had to do.”
Kasdan has been an integral member of the Star Wars and Lucasfilm family since the 1980s, when he received screenwriting credits for Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He was brought on the JJ Abrams-directed Force Awakens reboot to reshape the classic Star Wars tone. He too criticized the Lord/Miller production way.
“Kathy, her team, and Larry Kasdan have been doing it their way for a very long time. They know how the cheese is made and that’s how they want it made,” said the Variety source. “It became a very polarizing set.”
Fans will remember a similarly murky production followed Rogue One. Veteran screenwriter Tony Gilroy was brought on late to punch up the screenplay and reportedly oversaw extensive reshoots of the film. A spokesperson said he will not take over directing duties. Two other potentials include Ron Howard, who declined comment, and Captain America director Joe Johnston. Nothing remains confirmed at this time.
The most interesting part of the Variety report is this section, which implicates Kennedy as a problematic force:
Some insiders believe that while Kennedy wants to make a splash by hiring young indie directors such as Gareth Edwards (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) and Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”), she’s ultimately unwilling to empower them to make their own creative decisions.
Unlike Edwards and Johnson, Miller and Lord felt they had earned their stripes, having worked extensively in the major studio system.
Who knows what this means. This is not Lucasfilm firing Josh Trank, whose erratic behavior on Fantastic Four led to his own demise. There remains more to this story we aren’t currently aware. Hopefully we’ll learn more information soon.