LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is stepping into a galaxy far, far away for the upcoming Star Wars Han Solo spin-off movie, Lucasfilm announced on Thursday (June 22), after the film’s production was thrown into upheaval by the surprise departure of its directors.
Howard is one of Hollywood’s best known directors with films such as Frost/Nixon and A Beautiful Mind to his credit.
Lucasfilm’s president, Kathleen Kennedy, announced on Wednesday that filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, best known for the 2014 hit The Lego Movie, had left the project due to creative differences.
“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,” Kennedy said in a statement on StarWars.com.
Kennedy announced Howard’s hiring for the film on Thursday, saying in a statement, “At Lucasfilm, 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.”
Film trade publications reported that Lord and Miller had clashed with Kennedy and veteran Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan over the comedic direction of the film.
The untitled Han Solo movie will follow the origin story of young Han Solo, the handsome, roguish space smuggler made famous by actor Harrison Ford. It started filming in February in London. Production is on a brief hiatus amid the directorial changes until Howard takes over on July 10, Lucasfilm said.
Rising star Alden Ehrenreich will play Han Solo, while Donald Glover will play Lando Calrissian, made famous in George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy by actor Billy Dee Williams. Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton will also star in the film.
The spin-off is part of Walt Disney's expanding slate of Star Wars movies, which was rebooted by 2015’s blockbuster hit, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That film made more than US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) at the global box office.
The Han Solo film is the second of three stand-alone Star Wars films that kicked off with last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.