UPDATED: When Lucasfilm says “soon,” they mean soon. Just two days after directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller left the long-gestasting Han Solo standalone spinoff project, a new director has already been named, according to new reports. When Lord and Miller left the film on Tuesday, an official statement from the pair and Lucasfilm promised that a new director would be named soon. Soon is today.
Both THR and Variety report that Ron Howard, rumored over the past two days to be the frontrunner for the project, will take over as director ASAP. An official announcement is expected later this morning.
UPDATE: The official Star Wars website has now shared the news that Howard is on board to direct the feature. In their official statement, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy commented, “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.”
The still-untitled feature was reportedly about 75% done with principal photography, with about four weeks left in the shoot and five weeks of reshoots already planned for later this summer (a standard move on such a massive feature film).
THR reports that Howard “will meet with the actors — Alden Ehrenreich is playing the iconic smuggler, Donald Glover is playing Lando Calrissian, with Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton also on the roll call — to soothe a rattled set and will pore over a rough edit to see what the project has and still needs.”
Variety adds that “Howard will begin work immediately” on the film and “the exact amount of time and money that it will take to actually complete the production…will vary depending on how much rewriting and reshooting Howard deems is necessary after reviewing the script and shot footage.”
Howard is already a part of the Lucasfilm fold, having worked with the studio on the George Lucas-penned 1988 fantasy “Willow.” He even appeared in Lucas’ “American Graffiti” in a small role. THR also shares that “Howard also revealed on a podcast in 2015 that Lucas had approached him to direct 1999’s ‘Star Wars’ prequel ‘The Phantom Menace,'” a gig that Lucas himself ultimately took on.
The filmmaker is a clearly a safe choice for a situation that seems destined to go down as an all-timer of a mess, yet the two-time Oscar winner’s filmmaking career has lately seemed to flatline. His last four narrative features have each made less than $50 million at the domestic box office, though his “Inferno” was a worldwide smash (it made over $220 million internationally). His last bonafide box office hit was 2009’s “Angels and Demons,” earning $133 at U.S. box office and nearly half a billion worldwide.
It is also still unclear how credits for the final film will shake out, a decision that ultimately rests with the Directors Guild of America.
The film’s release date is still tentatively set for May 25, 2018.