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For some people, 1995’s Jumanji is a childhood classic. For those who never saw Joe Johnston’s action adventure tale, it follows a young boy who gets sucked into a board game he finds at a construction site. Forty years later, the game resurfaces, he comes out a full-grown adult (played by Robin Williams), and he has to finish the game while jungle creatures wreak havoc on a small town. The concept of a game coming to life and having life-or-death stakes is fun, and for me, the original film isn’t so sacrosanct that moving … »
- Matt Goldberg
Discover the man who showed the world who's boss in a new trailer & teaser poster from director Kevin Connolly's Gotti. Starring John Travolta as infamous crime boss John Gotti, the upcoming true story about the most notorious gangster of our generation opens in select theaters & on demand December 15. After years in development, fans finally get to see what John Travolta looks like as the infamous John Gotti.
Gotti follows crime boss John Gotti's (John Travolta) rise to become the "Teflon Don" of the Gambino Crime Family in New York City. Spanning three decades and recounted by his son John Jr. (Spencer Lofranco), Gotti examines Gotti's tumultuous life as he and his wife (Kelly Preston) attempt to hold the family together amongst tragedy and multiple prison sentences. The film will be released by Lionsgate Premiere in theaters and on demand on December 15, 2017, with the trailer debuting on Lionsgate YouTube today. »
Later this year, Jumanji is getting the long-awaited sequel it deserves in the form of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. If you've already watched the trailer too many times, you're probably looking for a way to pass the time until the movie arrives on December 20. Why not spend a few months making a completely screen-accurate version of the Jumanji board game? That's what one fan did, and it is totally awesome.
Steven Richter recently published a video to his YouTube channel detailing his journey to create this unbelievably detailed and entirely accurate Jumanji board game. The time-lapse video lasts just 15 minutes, but it reportedly took Richter seven months to complete the project. That may sound like a long time, but when you see just how much work and detail went into creating it, that timeframe isn't nearly that surprising. Here's some of what he had to say about making the Jumanji board game. »
When it was announced that cult film favorite James Gunn (Super, Dawn of the Dead, Slither) was going to take the reigns of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a segment of the film underground was taken aback. While the McU had toyed with having directors who were notorious for perhaps being a bit experimental and pulpy - Louis Leterrier, Joss Whedon, Joe Johnston - none were as out of left field as Gunn. A truly subversive filmmaker who cut his teeth in the Troma sweatshops and whose previous features as a director, Slither and Super, were cult hits, but considered a bit too weird for mainstream audiences, Gunn's vision of the Guardians was sure to be spectacular, but what was unclear was whether it would...
[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...] »
"This is a video game - which means we all have special skills." Sony Pictures has revealed the first two official trailers (Us + international) for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the new big screen take on the Jumanji board game (though in this it's a video game). This movie stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan as glorified "avatar" versions of high school kids sucked into this game world. This also stars Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Rhys Darby, Madison Iseman, and Bobby Cannavale. This is made by comedy director Jake Kasdan, and looks much more adventurous and fun than the more thrilling and horrific first Jumanji movie, directed by Joe Johnston in 1995. The video game angle is a bit bland, and the rest of it doesn't look that good, but I'm still hoping it turns out okay. Your thoughts? Here's the first official trailers for Jake Kasdan »
- Alex Billington
You're in the jungle baby! And it is pretty cool. More than twenty years later, we are finally getting a sequel to Jumanji and, in a world full of reboots that nobody asked for, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle actually looks pretty awesome so far. Sadly, it won't be able to feature the late Robin Williams, but Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is doing his best to help fill that void and, based on this first sneak peak, it looks like he just may be able to pull it off.
Sony Pictures dropped the first trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle today, as promised, following a couple of brief trailer teases earlier in the week. This movie is going to be able to capitalize on some nostalgia, no doubt, but it is also going to benefit from modern special effects, which is very clear here. Director Joe Johnston did the »
Sony Pictures dropped the first trailer for “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” on Thursday, and apart from CGI rampaging animals, this reboot looks nothing like the original 1995 hit family adventure that starred the late Robin Williams. Joe Johnston’s original was about a board game that opened a portal to an alternate, wild universe. The redo swaps that board game for a classic, ’90s-era video game console that transports a group of misbehaving teens into the game itself where they take on alter-ego avatars played by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan. In Johnston’s film, no actor swapping occurred. »
- Nigel M. Smith
How do you go about updating Jumanji for 2017? By transforming that magical (and dangerous) board game of the title into a video game, of course. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sort-of sequel to Joe Johnston’s 1995 film, with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan stepping in for Robin Williams. […]
The post ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ Trailer: It’s Not All Fun and Games appeared first on /Film. »
- Jacob Hall
Do you know where you are? If you're a fan of The Rock, then you'll probably be in the jungle with him for the upcoming Jumanji sequel. The first full trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set to debut tomorrow, but Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has decided to give us all a little taste of what to expect. And it is full on crazy.
Dwayne Johnson took to Twitter to share the brief tease for the new Jumanji movie and, brief as it may be, this first footage has pretty much everything you may want from something like this. There is a little bit of Kevin Hart screaming, The Rock punching a guy super hard through a pillar and a super angry hippo. We also get a glimpse of the dangerous board game and a wicked rhino stampede. This footage packs quite a bit into about 20 seconds. We »
It’s a special edition of The Week in Star Wars following the shock news from the Han Solo spin-off movie, along with some bits from The Last Jedi, Episode IX and more…
Before we kick things off, The Week in Star Wars celebrated it’s second birthday this week.
Thanks to everyone who has read any edition over the last two years
So, let’s talk about Han Solo. Although the event took place as early as Monday, it was revealed on Tuesday that Phil Lord and Chris Miller had been fired from the Han Solo spin-off movie. The films had been in production since February, and all reports suggest that there are still four or so weeks left of shooting, with five weeks of planned re-shoots. “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that »
- Luke Owen
Just one day after Ron Howard officially signed on to direct LucasFilm's Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, the filmmaker speaks out about taking this coveted job for the first time. Howard appeared at the Cannes Lions advertising and media conference in France today, after officially coming in to replace departing Han Solo directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were fired by LucasFilm over vast creative differences. Here's what Ron Howard had to say at the conference earlier today.
"It's a little opportunity that came my way. I've been a fan forever. It's gratifying to be asked to lend my voice to the Star Wars universe."
Variety reports that Ron Howard has already started working on the Han Solo spin-off, with production scheduled to resume on July 10. There are already five weeks of reshoots built into the schedule that will take place later on this year at an unspecified date. Here's what he had to say about the material that has already been shot for Han Solo: A Star Wars Story.
"So many people involved in the Star Wars franchise are friends. It's already been in production, and there's a lot of really great work there."
The director also spoke about how director George Lucas discussed his plans for a "fun sci-fi film," while he was starring in the filmmaker's American Graffiti alongside the actor who would go on to become Han Solo, Harrison Ford. The director added that, when the first Star Wars movie came out on May 25, 1977, he waited in line for over two hours to see the film with his wife. Since they were both so inspired after seeing the movie, they got back in line and waited another 90 minutes to see the movie again. Ron Howard also took to Twitter last night, to release a statement about taking over on this highly-anticipated project.
"I'm beyond grateful to add my voice to the Star Wars Universe after being a fan since 5/25/77. I hope to honor the great work already done & help deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film."
Aside from "creative differences," no further explanation was given for Lord and Miller's departure, although there were reports that the directors were portraying Han Solo as a "comedic personality," which didn't sit well with Kathleen Kennedy. Other sources claimed there was friction immediately between the filmmakers, who were reportedly surprised they weren't given the same level of creative freedom they have enjoyed throughout their careers. Regardless, Ron Howard now has to step in and try to put together a movie that will make Star Wars fans proud, with LucasFilm keeping the May 25, 2018 release date.
After it was announced that Phil Lord and Chris Miller would be leaving the project, with reportedly just a few weeks left in production, LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced that a director would be announced soon. Ron Howard was mentioned as the front runner within hours of Lord and Miller's departure, while other candidates were mentioned such as Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote the Han Solo: A Star Wars Story script with his son Jon Kasdan, and Joe Johnston, who started his career working on visual effects for the first three Star Wars movies. Take a look at Ron Howard's tweets below, as we wait for more details on Han Solo: A Star Wars Story.
I'm beyond grateful to add my voice to the Star Wars Universe after being a fan since 5/25/77.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) June 22, 2017
I hope to honor the great work already done & help deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) June 22, 2017 »
Disney and Lucasfilm have announced that Ron Howard will officially be taking over Han Solo: A Star Wars Story. Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord were let go from the project earlier in the week for "creative differences" and speculation began on who would takeover the Star Wars spin-off. Ron Howard was the frontrunner along with Joe Johnston (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer), who also worked on the visual effects of the original Star Wars trilogy, and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the script for Han Solo.
"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. 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."
No other official information was given, but the movie is apparently still on track to hit its May 25th, 2018 release date.
Ron Howard, who also directed George Lucas' Willow and starred in Lucas' 1973 movie American Graffiti, was approached in the late 90s to direct The Phantom Menace. Howard's style should fit in perfectly to the vision that Lucasfilm has while hopefully adding his own creative spin on the hotly anticipated movie. Creative control has been in the news a lot for Disney and Lucasfilm, with some critics accusing the studios of hiring directors and basically using them as puppets to adhere to a specific vision. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has stated that critic's speculation is untrue and that he had full creative control under the watch of Lucasfilm and Disney.
The Academy Award winning Director is set to meet immediately with the cast and crew to go over what has been shot and discuss the next steps. The production is currently on a break, but has several weeks of reshooting already planned for later in the year. Production started back at the end of January 2017 at Pinewood Studios under the production title, Red Cup and is close to three-quarters finished. It is not clear at this time if Howard will order more reshoots or how he will take credit on the production. Sources close to the project report that Miller and Lord were let go because they were taking the character of Han Solo in a more comedic approach and that their shooting style wasn't seeing eye to eye with Lucasfilm and Disney.
Ron Howard has spoken about how George Lucas inspired him to direct. Lucas wasn't much older than Howard when he was directing American Graffiti and Howard remembers his eye for detail being particularly inspiring, mentioning that Lucas spent just as much time choosing the cars for the movie as he did when choosing the actors. Howard has also recently talked about why he chose to turn down Lucas' request to direct The Phantom Menace by saying that he was the third director approached and that ultimately, he didn't want to have to step in and follow Lucas' act. »
Well, that didn’t take long, and it’s not a big surprise. With Phil Lord and Chris Miller‘s surprise exit from Disney‘s ‘Han Solo‘ movie this week, right in the midst of production with weeks of shooting (and scheduled reshoots) slated to take place, Disney needed to act fast to find a replacement. And they have.
Frontrunner Ron Howard is now confirmed to get in the director’s chair for ‘Han Solo.’ Other contenders floated included Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Jurassic Park III“) and longtime franchise writer Lawrence Kasdan, but neither seemed to be under serious consideration, and in the case of the latter, his hiring would’ve violated DGA rules which state a producer cannot replace a director on the same project.
Continue reading Ron Howard Confirmed To Direct ‘Han Solo’ Movie at The Playlist. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
*This was posted before today’s announcement that Ron Howard has been tapped for the director’s chair* A few days ago, shocking news broke that filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller were being removed from the untitled Young Han Solo movie that they were currently in production on. This is pretty shocking stuff, to be frank. Even with the chaos of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last year, Kathleen Kennedy and company didn’t replace Gareth Edwards during the shooting of the picture. That happened here though, as Lord and Miller are out. What does this mean? We shall see, but the search is (quickly) on for a replacement. Whomever gets the job will finish the last few weeks of production and then handle the post production work. It’s going to be a challenge, to say the least. Hopefully the person who comes on board the ship won’t crash it, as plenty is riding on this tale of a young smuggler… Here now are a half dozen options to replace Lord and Miller, some of whom have been mentioned already, while some are just my suggestions. Take a gander: Jon Favreau – He’s familiar to Disney, has experience with blockbusters, and probably would have an affinity for the material. At the same time, Favreau is a busy man and likely is a long shot. This is the sort of person that Kennedy and company should be looking into though, for what that’s worth. It just probably won’t end up being him, specifically. Tony Gilroy – Considering how Gilroy supposedly stepped in to save the day on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, doesn’t this make sense? Still, it’s been said that he’s not in the mix, at least currently. Logic dictates that he should be, however. If the same result can be achieved here as with Rogue One, I think everyone would walk away happily, more or less. Ron Howard – The frontrunner and rumored to be the likely pick, Howard would be a safe and reliable choice. Is he a filmmaker who generates excitement anymore? No, not especially. That being said, he would be a responsible choice, one who wouldn’t rock the boat. He might even leave in a fair amount of Lord and Miller’s style, considering how low key his own is. If this is the choice, I have zero issue with it. Joe Johnston – The other name mentioned a lot is Johnston, who [...] »
- Joey Magidson
It's been less than 24 hours since Han Solo directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were unceremoniously fired from the Star Wars spin-off, but there are already three candidates that have emerged as front-runners to take over the production. New reports have surfaced which claim that Ron Howard, Lawrence Kasdan and Joe Johnston are currently in the mix as candidates for this coveted directing gig. LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy stated in her statement yesterday that a new director will be announced soon, but it remains to be seen how soon that announcement will come.
Deadline reports that Ron Howard is the front runner for the directing gig, while acknowledging that Lawrence Kasdan has been mentioned as a possible replacement. Another report from The Hollywood Reporter claims that Joe Johnston, who started his career by working on the visual effects for the original Star Wars trilogy, has also been mentioned as a possible replacement. That report also includes new details about how Lawrence Kasdan may not even be allowed to replace Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
There are already rules in place at the Director's Guild of America (DGA) that prevent anyone already working on a movie to take over for a director that is being replaced, with the only exception being for a "short-term emergency." Since Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote the Han Solo spin-off script with his son Jon Kasdan, these rules may prevent the filmmaker from stepping in as a director. Lawrence Kasdan had also revealed in 2015 that Han Solo: A Star Wars Story will be his last Star Wars movie, after writing or co-writing the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and he has also directed hits like Body Heat, The Big Chill and Silverado.
Whether it's Ron Howard, Joe Johnston or another filmmaker, whoever replaces Phil Lord and Chris Miller may not even get credit for his or her work. Given that they were fired with just a few weeks of the shoot left, LucasFilm would most likely prefer that the new filmmaker get director's credit, but since Phil Lord and Chris Miller were on set filming since February, which obviously gives them strong grounds for directorial credit, although the new director will oversee the post-production process and the reshoots which have already been scheduled for this summer. However, it's entirely up to the DGA, as to who gets directorial credit, and unlike the Writers Guild of America, there is no appeals process, meaning the DGA's decision is finale. It's also unlikely that the guild will give credit to Lord, Miller and their successor, since the DGA is already not terribly fond of two directors on one movie. The guild's rules state that there shall be only one director for film, but waivers can be granted, which have become more and more commonplace in recent years, especially for more established directorial teams.
Another report from The Hollywood Reporter speculates that Han Solo: A Star Wars Story may even become an "Alan Smithee" film, although that won't happen since that pseudonym has been discontinued since 2000. For decades, if a filmmaker was so unhappy with the final cut of the film that he wanted his name taken off, the name that was put on the film instead was "Alan Smithee." The name was discontinued in 2000 after the film Burn Hollywood Burn used Alan Smithee as an actual character, played by Eric Idle, and after the real meaning of the name became more well-known throughout Hollywood.
This report also states that, whoever takes over the project, will spend the next several weeks, with production shut down, to go over the footage that has already been shot, re-edit the material that has already been filmed and pick up production from there. Despite this unique setback, Han Solo: A Star Wars Story will not be moved from its May 25, 2018 release date, but that could change if it takes longer than planned to find a director. Still, with three solid candidates in play, we may hear who's directing this Star Wars movie sooner rather than later. »
Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were dumped from the Han Solo spinoff film this week after more than four months of production, an unusually late date to make a shift behind the camera. That leaves the “Star Wars” production scrambling to find a replacement with weeks left of shooting and a scheduled five weeks of reshoots coming later this summer, an unenviable position for one of the biggest franchises in the entertainment industry and all involved.
The film, which is still untitled, isn’t the first to change its director in midstream. Classics such as “Gone With the Wind” and “Wizard of Oz” cycled through filmmakers, while duds like “The 13th Warrior” and “The Island of Dr. Moreau” also brought in fresh blood in the middle of shooting. But despite plenty of precedents, Lord and Miller’s firing is setting tongues wagging.
“It has certainly happened on a number of occasions, but not under such scrutiny and not usually this far into production,” said Leonard Maltin, a film critic and historian.
Frequently, a director is dropped after he finds himself on the losing end of a power struggle. During “Gone With the Wind,” Clark Gable pushed to have George Cukor replaced with Victor Fleming because Gable felt that the filmmaker was paying too much attention to his co-star, Vivien Leigh. While shooting “Spartacus,” Kirk Douglas used his clout to have Anthony Mann replaced with Stanley Kubrick because he believe that his hand-picked substitute could better handle the film’s epic scope. And in “Waterworld” it was Kevin Costner, and not credited director Kevin Reynolds, who handled the film’s final cut after the two clashed on the notoriously troubled and costly production.
More recently, Steven Soderbergh left “Moneyball” due to his desire to shoot documentary-style, while Pixar parted ways with the the directors of several of its films, from “Ratatouille” to the “Brave” to “The Good Dinosaur,” over differing creative ideas about the animated offerings. In most cases, these movies survived their filmmaking shuffles to succeed financially and artistically, proving that a rocky path to the big screen does not necessarily foretell doom.
That’s to say nothing of the pictures whose financial backers probably wished in retrospect that they’d pulled the plug on a director. Costly overruns on “Heaven’s Gate,” Michael Cimino’s brooding Western epic, essentially bankrupted United Artists, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Cleopatra” went so egregiously over budget that it brought Fox to the brink of financial ruin. Perhaps another filmmaker would have been able to rein in some of the spending?
But there are reasons why studios have historically been loathe to make a change after cameras start rolling.
“Once a film begins production it’s a runaway train and the backers of the film are reluctant to remove the conductor from the train for fear of it being even more of a disaster,” said Howard Suber, a professor of film history at UCLA. “It becomes a decision between cutting your losses and possibly starting all over again or hoping that things somehow are able to get better.”
It’s harder to overhaul a project without drawing a lot of scrutiny. In the days of “The Wizard of Oz” or “Gone With the Wind,” the public wasn’t as versed in film production — studios might expect a report of a production shakeup in a trade paper such as Variety, but it rarely filtered out across the mass media. That’s no longer the case. From Entertainment Tonight to the New York Times to Twitter, news of Lord and Miller’s ouster was ubiquitous this week.
“The public is now reading about controversies on films and who gets hired here and who gets fired there,” said Dana Polan, professor of cinema studies at Nyu. “That was not a thing before.”
In the case of the Han Solo spinoff shakeup, insiders say that Lord and Miller clashed with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and writer and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan over their vision for the film and its execution. Lord and Miller wanted to inject more cheekiness into the “Star Wars” universe and encouraged improvisation on set. Kasdan and Kennedy believed in adhering more tightly to the script and were concerned that the directors were deviating too far from the franchise’s “house style.” They preferred something that was more reverent, which they might get if Ron Howard or Joe Johnston, both rumored to be in the running for the gig, take over as director.
The Lord and Miller firing is also a reminder of a new cinematic reality. Auteur theory, a popular school of thought in film criticism, once held that the director is the true author of a film because he or she makes the key audio and visual decisions. That view was given so much credence that 1980’s “The Stunt Man” offered up Peter O’Toole as a God-like film director, an artistic zealot willing to trample over anyone and everyone in order to get the perfect shot.
Miller and Lord’s ouster, however, demonstrates the limitations of a director’s power in a rapidly changing movie landscape. It’s a caste structure in which brands, be they costumed heroes or robots, are the true stars in Hollywood. As Lord and Miller discovered, no filmmaker is more important than the Jedi mythology that lies at the heart of the “Star Wars” universe. With billions of dollars in box office and merchandising at stake, studios aren’t as receptive to a director who wants to take an iconoclastic approach to the material.
12 Directors Who Were Pushed from the Director’s Chair
As studios have grown more corporate and more dependent on a few major franchises, productions have become more bureaucratic. It’s Kennedy and her team at Lucasfilm who are making most of the major decisions about where to take the “Star Wars” universe, just as executive teams at DC (Geoff Johns and Jon Berg) and Marvel (Kevin Feige) are exerting enormous control over the gestations of the various sequels and spinoffs that they churn out annually. In the old days, the first move would be to hire a director. Now, a filmmaker is often brought onto a project after a script has been written and even storyboarded.
There’s a lot less job stability when you’re a mercenary.
Related storiesRon Howard to Take Over as Director of 'Star Wars' Han Solo SpinoffWhy Movies Need Directors Like Phil Lord and Chris Miller More Than Ever'Star Wars' Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Fired After Clashing With Kathleen Kennedy (Exclusive) »
- Brent Lang
Rian Johnson is a filmmaker who cut his teeth on crime drama (Brick) and caper comedy (The Brothers Bloom), along with top-tier television thanks to his celebrated work on multiple episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad series. When pulled together, it makes for a remarkably diverse body of work, but it was ultimately Johnson’s lack of blockbuster experience that meant he was viewed as a curious choice to take on Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Before plotting a course for Disney’s galaxy far, far away, the closest Rian Johnson had come to a big-budget science fiction pic was Looper, the criminally under-appreciated genre gem of 2012 starring Bruce Willis and Joesph Gordon-Levitt. But low and behold, Johnson is the one marshalling The Last Jedi toward its December 15th due date, and though one might assume that the Powers That Be would make their presence felt on set, the director took to Twitter (via Screen Rant) to reaffirm that he ostensibly retained full creative control over Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
That same issue of creative control reared its head late last night, when it was revealed that Disney had formally parted ways with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the erstwhile directors of the Han Solo Anthology movie. Subsequent reports have all but confirmed that Lord and Miller were fired after repeated clashes with screenwriters Jon and Lawrence Kasden concerning the tone and style of 2018’s Star Wars tentpole.
With The Last Jedi, it’s a little different in the sense that Rian Johnson is directing from his own script and here, the filmmaker stepped in to allay concerns over potential studio meddling:
I had as much creative control on Tlj as I've ever had on any of my own movies.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) June 21, 2017
Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens December 15th, 2017. As for the Han Solo spinoff, Disney and Lucasfilm have drafted up a list of potential replacements, which purportedly includes Ron Howard, Joe Johnston, and the aforementioned Lawrence Kasdan. »
- Michael Briers
It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for Star Wars fans, as it was abruptly announced that the popular directing duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) are no longer at the helm of the as-yet untitled Han Solo movie – which is supposedly set to be the second Star Wars Anthology film. While the studio is apparently still insistent that the release date of May 2018 has not changed, the logistics of the situation is certainly cause for concern.
As it stands, the production seems to have been filming for between four and five months, and is reportedly less than a month away from finishing principal photography. Time for reshoots has been scheduled for later in the summer – as is the case for most big budget movies – but the directors have just been “let go.” It’s the timing of this drastic change that rings the loudest alarm bells for those that have been patiently waiting for a look at the early years of the beloved rogue, simply because Lord and Miller have clearly already done the larger share of the work. If, as they said in their statement, their “vision and process weren’t aligned with [their] partners” on the film, what effect has that incompatibility had on the months of footage already in the can?
If the creative conflict is indeed evident in the footage it is, perhaps, a positive move to have the filmmakers exit, stage left. With a few weeks of principal photography left, the entire reshoot schedule, and all of the post-production phase to work on, the replacement director – whoever it’s eventually revealed to be – still has a fighting chance of delivering a decent movie. But who might that replacement be?
We’ve already heard reports that Ron Howard is on the shortlist, but The Hollywood Reporter is now suggesting that two more names have cropped up – both of whom have a prior association with Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand. Firstly, there’s Lawrence Kasdan, who’s rumoured to be the person with whom Lord and Miller found most of their creative differences on the Han Solo movie set.
Kasdan has four Academy Award nominations to his name, thanks to his work as both writer, producer and director of an impressive list of movies. Most significantly, with regard to Star Wars, however, Kasdan co-wrote the scripts for The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens – which means he’s been instrumental in crafting the character of Han Solo for decades. He also co-wrote the script for the Han Solo spinoff with his son, Jon. Kasdan is the obvious choice to take the reins, then – but the legality of such a move is in question, given that the Director’s Guild of America apparently has rules prohibiting a person already working on a film from stepping into the director’s seat.
Secondly, there’s Joe Johnston, who’s also an accomplished director in his own right. Apart from having helmed such effects-heavy fare as Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, The Rocketeer, Jumanji and Jurassic Park III, he also delivered Captain America: The First Avenger – arguably one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s also well-versed in the minutiae of Star Wars, having worked on A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi, The Ewok Adevnture, Ewoks: The Battle For Endor, and Star Wars: Droids as – variously – visual effects operative, actor, production designer and writer.
If the goal is to bring in an experienced hand to steer the beleaguered Han Solo film over the finish line, while ensuring the movie remains true to the iconic character made famous by Harrison Ford, then Lucasfilm would do well to lock in Joe Johnston. At this point in the proceedings, however, the next developments are as unpredictable as the departure of Lord and Miller in the first place. »
- Sarah Myles
Last July, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller took the stage at London’s Star Wars Celebration to provide the first official update on their still-untitled Han Solo standalone feature. It was a giddy event, with the filmmaking pair talking animatedly about their affection for the character — one that Miller billed as “one of the most iconic characters of all time” — and introducing the newly cast Alden Ehrenreich to a packed house filled with cheering fans.
Now, nearly one year later, the pair have unexpectedly departed the project, leaving the fate of the feature — one that has been in production for months, and reportedly has “several weeks” left, along with a planned series of reshoots for the summer — without a director and Lord and Miller without their latest passion project.
Announced via an official Lucasfilm statement on Tuesday afternoon, the departure shook up Hollywood and left plenty of lingering questions. We may have a few answers, thanks to a slew of reports hitting the wire as the industry scrambles to make sense of one of the few times in recent memory when Hollywood news was actually shocking.
Blame Creative Differences (No, Really)
If nothing else, it does seem that the old Hollywood chestnut of “creative differences” is to blame in this case. In yesterday’s official statement on the duo’s exit from the project, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said, “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.”
The filmmakers added in their own portion of the statement, “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.”
But those differences might have stemmed from a number of places, including clashes with high-powered producers and collaborators who ultimately decided the fate of Lord and Miller’s project.
Over at Variety, an exclusive report holds that the pair left the project “after months of conflict with producer Kathleen Kennedy, others from her LucasFilm team, and co-writer and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan.”
The report adds that “while Kennedy wants to make a splash by hiring young indie directors such as Gareth Edwards (‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’) and Rian Johnson (‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’), she’s ultimately unwilling to empower them to make their own creative decisions.”
Lord and Miller, however, have long worked within the studio system on such wide-ranging films as “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and “21 Jump Street” — both successes that smack of their special brand of humor — and likely did not expect to be so closely monitored while executing their vision. The outlet’s examination of the surprising departure holds that the directors “were stunned to find that they were not being granted freedom to run the production in the manner that they were accustomed to. They balked at Kennedy’s tight control on the set.”
The producer reportedly wasn’t a fan of their “shooting style and process of interacting with actors and crew,” which tends to be free-wheeling, collaborative, and open to improvisation. In what will likely be the defining color quote from the entire incident, a source told Variety,” It was a culture clash from day one. She didn’t even like the way they folded their socks.”
The Hollywood Reporter bolsters that report with their own, adding that “the friction was felt almost immediately when the movie began shooting in February, sources say, but the directors always thought it could be worked through…the duo also didn’t feel they had the support of producer Allison Shearmur, who was acting as Lucasfilm’s representative on the London set.”
Both Variety and THR report that Miller and Lord’s culture clash also extended to “Star Wars” mainstay and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, with Variety adding that, “Like Kennedy, he questioned many of the pair’s directing choices.”
THR’s own report holds that “the style and vision of Lord and Miller clashed with that of Lawrence Kasdan, the legendary screenwriter behind the classics ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ who also wrote, with his son, Jon Kasdan, the script for the Han Solo stand-alone.”
And that free-wheeling style? It could be to blame, with THR weighing in that “Lord and Miller have a comedic sensibility and improvisational style while Kasdan favors a strict adherence to the written word — what is on the page is what must be shot.”
Lord and Miller’s Exit Was Sudden
THR reports that the pair “were said to have been blindsided by the firing, which they learned about Monday, according to one source, although another disputed that account.” The duo had both moved to London months ago for pre-production and production.
As of now, the film has “gone on a short hiatus to review what had been shot and to clear the air.”
The Pair May Already Be Lining Up Their Next Feature
Lord and Miller previously wrote a treatment for DC’s “The Flash” back in 2015, and a new report holds that they may be on deck to direct the film, which has already cycled through directors Seth Grahame-Smith and Rick Famuyiwa on its way to the big screen.
The Wrap reports that the pair met with DC during a planned production hiatus from the film. The outlet holds that “the duo met about the possibility of directing ‘The Flash’ after Rick Famuyiwa left the project over creative differences last year, according to multiple individuals familiar with the project, adding that “it was unclear whether they were already considering an exit from the ‘Han Solo’ project” at the time of the meeting.
The Flash will next appear in “Justice League,” played by Ezra Miller, who first appeared in last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” While the standalone feature has struggled to find a director, there have long been rumors that Robert Zemeckis would step in — but could Lord and Miller best him for the gig?
The Project May Be Close to Locking a New Director
Inevitably, Lord and Miller’s exits opens the door for another director’s splashy entrance. At Deadline, a new report holds that Ron Howard is the current front-runner to take over the film. Other names like Kasdan and Joe Johnston have been floated already, but Deadline seems set on Howard stepping into the role.
The outlet reports, “In Howard, Disney’s getting a pro who can step right in and keep the picture on track for a May 2018 release. He has been busy as ever and recently agreed to direct a feature docu on Luciano Pavarotti while developing numerous features that include an adaptation of the publishing phenomenon of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’…he might well step right in here and keep the Solo film on track.”
THR holds that “Lucasfilm and owner Disney have already targeted their replacement, although the companies are keeping mum.”
In its official statement, Lucasfilm promised that a new director will be announced soon, and that this decision would not immediately affect the film’s release date, which is still tentatively set for May 25, 2018.
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- Kate Erbland
Ryan Lambie Jun 22, 2017
Making a Hollywood film is a huge opportunity. But for some filmmakers, it can also represent years of compromise and disappointment...
The course of Hollywood filmmaking never did run smooth, but the news recently emerging from the production of next year's A Star Wars Story spin-off is dramatic stuff even by blockbuster movie standards.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were first hired to direct the film about a young Han Solo in the summer of 2015, have abruptly departed the project, with the movie-making duo and Lucasfilm both citing “creative differences” in their respective statements.
Now, directors, writers and other crew may come and go on movies of all sizes, but seldom this far into production. The core cast of Alden Ehrenreich (as Solo), Donald Glover (as a young Lando) had already been put in place, while filming began in late January of this year under the production title Star Wars: Red Cup. This means that Lord and Miller - whose previous films include Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, 21 Jump St and The Lego Movie - had been shooting for approximately five months before their involvement abruptly ended.
A number of reports have emerged about what went on behind the scenes; The Hollywood Reporter, for example, suggests that longtime Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote the Solo script with his son, Jon) disapproved of Lord and Miller’s loose, improv-heavy style of filmmaking, and wanted them to stick to the letter of his text. Variety, on the other hand, says it was producer and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy who butted heads with the directors, with one of the outlet’s sources quoted as saying that the “culture clash” between the two parties was such that Kennedy “Didn’t even like the way they folded their socks.”
Whatever the truth is, the Solo movie is now in a highly unusual position of being in the midst of full-scale production without a director to guide it. Now, you might think that, in such an scenario, an experienced producer like Kathleen Kennedy or even Kasdan, who’s called the shots on movies in the past, could simply fill the empty seats left by Lord and Miller.
There is, however, a problem: the Directors Guild of America’s rules plainly state that someone already involved with a movie production can’t replace an outgoing director. “Except in an emergency,” the DGA’s website states, “no director already assigned to the production may replace you”.
From a director’s standpoint, it’s easy to see why this rule’s in place: it protects them from those nightmare scenarios where a power-hungry director wants to push the director out and take over the picture. (According to James Cameron, this is pretty much what happened to him on his ill-fated debut, Piranha II: The Spawning.)
As the DGA says in that quote above, a producer like Kathleen Kennedy can take over the directing duties on a Hollywood movie in the event of an emergency, but even here, there’s a catch: if the producer created that emergency in the first place - in other words, if Lord and Miller were fired, as Variety claims they were - then Kennedy can’t take over. In any event, an emergency director can only assume the role for a maximum of five days, and by that point, the producers are back to where they started: the person who permanently takes over as director has to hired from outside the production.
This is why, within hours of the Lord and Miller news breaking, further stories have emerged that a replacement is already being sought; Ron Howard and Joe Johnston are reportedly being considered, as is Lawrence Kasdan - though as we’ve already seen, hiring Kasdan could land Disney-Lucasfilm in some legally murky waters.
In the meantime, production on the Solo movie has been shut down until a new director’s found - a process that could take weeks, according to THR sources. While the new crop of Star Wars movies have had their production difficulties before, this is undoubtedly the most serious so far - and getting the production back on course will almost certainly prove costly.
There’s the question, too, of just what other directors will make of the whole affair, given the stories that have emerged from behind the scenes of last year’s Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One. Director Gareth Edwards’ vision of a harsh war film was retooled late in the film’s making, with Tony Gilroy brought in to conduct reshoots and change the film’s tone to something more approaching a typical Star Wars movie.
These production stories provide a useful illustration of where major films from the likes of Marvel, Warner and Lucasfilm are today; the producers behind them may want directors who have their own style and ideas, but only if those things fit within the closely-guarded framework dictated by either a space opera or a superhero movie. Indeed, with Kennedy stating that the directors and studio had “different creative visions” for Han Solo, it leaves us wondering why Lord and Miller were hired in the first place. One look at their body of work, whether it’s animated or live-action, will give you an indication of their very successful style: shoot-from-the-hip, fast and loose.
From an outside standpoint, it appears as though directors are being hired for their enthusiasm and the personality of their filmmaking, albeit with the hope that their edges can be sanded down to fit what the producers think will please its ticket-buying audiences. In many instances, a happy medium is found, of a sort: Suicide Squad, which was heavily re-edited before release, was critically panned, but the box office receipts were huge. Rogue One’s production was difficult, but the resulting film was well-received and a similarly big success.
When those uneasy partnerships break down, though, the results are plain to see: Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, which went so sour that the director effectively disowned the movie via social media. Ant-Man, which lost co-writer and director Edgar Wright after years of development. And, of course, the whole Lord and Miller situation.
Behind-the-scenes dramas are as old as Hollywood itself, but the ever-increasing cost of mainstream filmmaking and the bizarre paradox created by the movie universe paradigm - where audience expectations have to be catered to and upended at the same time - appear to be making the life of a director increasingly difficult.
Taking on the biggest movies in modern pop culture - Star Wars, Marvel, DC - gives filmmakers the chance to tell huge stories on an epic canvas. They have the opportunity to reach global audiences of millions, and potentially, make a lot of money in the process. But as the Han Solo story proves, there’s also the possibility that a director can sink years of their lives into one of these projects, only for it all to fall apart. What is on one hand a huge opportunity could also be regarded as a poisoned chalice. »
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