UPDATE (6/22/17, 10:45 a.m. ET): Hollywood icon Ron Howard will step in as the new director of the untitled Han Solo movie, reports The Hollywood Reporter. It's unclear how Lord and Miller will be credited for what has already been shot, but those details will undoubtedly be discussed in the coming weeks. Howard confirmed the news on Twitter:
The directing duo, known for The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street, issued a statement about their departure, citing "creative differences" with Lucasfilm. (Creative differences is a term often used when a director is fired by the studio.)
"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project," they wrote. "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."
Although it's unusual for a director to leave a project so late into production, the untitled Star Wars anthology film remains scheduled for its May 2018 release, according to Lucasfilm. "A new director will be announced soon," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. Ron Howard is reportedly in conversations.
However, a report from Variety suggests that there had been tension on the set of the Han Solo film since it commenced production in February. Kennedy reportedly did not approve of their loose shooting style, while Lord and Miller apparently clashed with Kennedy’s tight control on the set.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Kennedy fundamentally disagreed with Lord and Miller's more comedic characterization of the young, scruffy-looking nerfherder played by star Alden Ehrenreich. (If that's the case, then isn't that something that should have been addressed before production started?) When Kennedy wanted to bring in new creative talent to help shepherd major reshoots later this summer, Lord and Miller balked at the idea — and were promptly let go from the project.
This wouldn't be the first time Lucasfilm has intervened midway through production of a Star Wars film. Last summer, the studio sidelined director Gareth Edwards and brought in Tony Gilroy to rewrite and direct major reshoots of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Sure, Rogue One was a financial and critical success, but it's also obvious that the film Edwards originally made was not the film that hit theaters.
Though this is an alarming setback for the film — which stars Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Glover, with Ehrenreich as Han Solo — it goes without saying that Lucasfilm would have never made the decision if there wasn't already a contingency plan in place. The new director will reportedly look over Lord and Miller's footage, produce a new cut of the film, and go from there.
Whoever it is that ends up picking up the movie after this mess, may the Force be with you.