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Ron Howard to direct Han Solo spin-off

Rush, Ron Howard

Story by Jack Foley

AS PREDICTED, Ron Howard has been named as the new director of Lucasfilm and Disney’s untitled Han Solo movie.

The news was broken by The Hollywood Reporter and comes just 48 after co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go from the movie they had spent over four-and-a-half months directing.

In a statement confirming the story, Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said: “At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began 40 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.”

A previous statement released by Kennedy on Tuesday cited creative differences, which are believed to have been about style and tone. According to various insiders, the directing duo’s irreverent style clashed with the script envisaged by screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, with whom the studio eventually sided.

Howard will reportedly meet with actors Alden Ehrenreich, who is playing the iconic Han Solo, Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton to reassure them, before casting his eye over a rough edit to see what the project needs. Filming will then resume on July 10.

Howard, who won an Oscar for helming 2002’s A Beautiful Mind, already has several connections to George Lucas and Lucasfilm. He appeared in Lucas’ 1973 breakout film American Graffiti and directed Lucas’ 1988 pet fantasy project Willow. The veteran filmmaker has also revealed on a recent podcast that Lucas had approached him to direct 1999’s Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace.

While Howard is considered a safe choice to bring the Han Solo film to a safe conclusion, it’s worth noting that two of his most recent movies, the blockbusters Inferno and In The Heart of the Sea, have been costly ventures that underperformed at the box office.

Disney’s move to part company with Lord and Miler has sent shock waves through Hollywood, not least because the film was three-quarters of the way through principal photography. It means that the decision to replace a director at that stage is near-unprecedented.

The spin-off is currently scheduled to shoot for three and a half more weeks, with five weeks of re-shoots built into the schedule – a standard procedure on large franchise productions.

The as-yet untitled Han Solo film is due for release on May 25, 2018.