Disney is banking on Ron Howard’s star power and track record to salvage one of their most anticipated films.
Howard is slated to take the reins of the forthcoming, and yet untitled, Han Solo film after directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller left the project on Tuesday, the company said Thursday. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to break the news.
Reports of creative differences over the style and tone of the film surfaced earlier this week, with many speculating that the central issues were too much improvisation on set and the characterization of Han Solo himself.
“Ultimately, the powers that be at Lucasfilm felt strongly enough to take this unprecedented step late in the game to set the Han Solo Project on a new path with the installation of the rock steady Ron Howard as the new director of this incredibly important project,” Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at comScore, told CNBC.
Howard has history with Star Wars creator George Lucas and president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy. He appeared in Lucas’ 1973 film “American Graffiti” and directed Lucas’ fantasy film “Willow.”
Lord and Miller were three-quarters of the way through principal photography at the time of their departure and had about three-and-a-half more weeks of shooting left and an additional five weeks of already scheduled reshoots to complete.
“Clearly the costs of re-shoots, re-scheduling and public perception of the project are taking a back seat to the creative vision that the company wants to portray in this anthology project and with so much on the line it was obviously a gamble they were willing to take,” Dergarabedian said.
Filming is slated to resume on July 10. It is unclear at this time how much of the film will be reshot by Howard or if the studio will have to push back its slated May 2018 release date.
It’s unlikely that there will be hefty script rewrites as screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who worked on “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens,” among other films, will remain with the production.
“Remember, ‘Rogue One’ went through a similar directing scuffle and the results produced the most successful film of the year at the global box office,” Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango, told CNBC. “So never bet against Star Wars.”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the first of Disney’s standalone Star Wars films incurred extensive reshoots after Gareth Edwards’ first pass in the directors chair. Tony Gilroy was brought in to write new dialogue and direct a few extra scenes to tighten up the film . He reportedly took home $5 million for his efforts and “Rogue One” went on to earn more than $1 billion at the global box office.
Fans who rallied behind Lord and Miller, who are known for their comedic films “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie” may have some reservations after their departure. However, Davis doesn’t think that will last long.
“Will the fans be upset? I’m sure they’ll make noise at the start, but all you need to quiet that is a great first teaser trailer and then everyone’s on board in a big way,” he said.
Disclosure: CNBC’s parent Comcast owns Fandango and Universal Pictures.