In June, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had stepped down as directors for the upcoming Han Solo film, saying that a replacement would “be announced soon.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company has announced that Ron Howard will be taking over the film, and will meet with the cast to get production rolling again.
“At Lucasfilm,” said Kennedy in a statement, “we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July.”
Howard is an Oscar-winning director, having helmed 2002’s A Beautiful Mind. He also has a long history with Lucasfilm, appearing in the George Lucas’ 1973 movie American Graffiti, and directing the Star Wars creator’s 1988 cult fantasy film Willow. (And yes, he’s also well known for narrating Arrested Development.)
Howard is stepping into a complicated situation: Lord and Miller joined the project in 2015, promising that they would “take risks to give the audience a fresh experience,” while staying true to the characters. The film lost its directors five months into shooting, which means that Howard will need to hit the ground sprinting, especially as Lucasfilm has said that it’s planning on holding to its May 25th, 2018 release date.
While this changing of the guard is dramatic, it’s far from unprecedented in the history of cinema. Disney famously stepped in to reshoot entire sections of Rogue One late in its production to fix the film, demonstrating a serious commitment to the franchise’s success. More recently, Justice League director Zack Snyder turned the reins over to Joss Whedon for extensive reshoots following his daughter’s suicide earlier this year. Edgar Wright dropped out of Ant Man over creative disagreements with Marvel, and was replaced by Peyton Reed. Historically, there’s been other films as well: io9 has a great list from a couple of years ago. How the Han Solo film ends up remains to be seen, and that’ll likely come down to how Howard uses the footage shot by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
The still-untitled Han Solo film is still expected to hit theaters in May 25th, 2018.