So here we are again. Another Star Wars offshoot movie, another mess threatening to snowball the entire project. As Phil Lord and Christopher Miller step out of their role of directors of the upcoming Han Solo flick, Lucasfilm have been quick to try and reign the story in. Citing creative differences, the studio seem intent on pushing through the problems. Sadly I don’t think this in the best interests of anyone, and can only end badly for Star Wars as a whole.
It’s become clear that there are major problems behind the scenes on the upcoming Han Solo movie; problems that likely been building for a long time. No successful movie loses its director before the first round of filming is complete – let alone both of them. Adding to the alarm around this move is the fact that filming isn’t even complete; with reports suggesting that there are several weeks to go. If Disney’s dreams of turning Star Wars into a full cinematic universe are to be realized, this kind of thing can’t keep happening.
A similar thing happened during the filming of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Extensive re-shoots and changes to the films closing acts left audiences with a confused movie – one that didn’t quite understand what it wanted to be. Yes it had all the hallmarks of a Star Wars film, but it never had the soul of one. Instead audiences were left with characters that seemed important, but did nothing as their roles within the movie were left entirely on the cutting room floor. It wanted to be a gritty war movie, but ended up relying on the established Star Wars roster of known faces to drag it through.
Lucasfilm and Disney salvaged enough of the flick to turn things around. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. Han Solo though is iconic to Star Wars. Any mess made to his canon could potentially harm the franchise in more serious ways. A bad Han Solo movie will likely hurt the franchise much more than any other film currently in development. At a time when audiences are still waiting for Disney to do something amazing with the iconic franchise, it only raises the stakes. With under a year before the proposed release date (Yes, Disney and Lucasfilm are still pushing for a May 2018 release) it begs the question – how can it be done?
Not very well – will likely be the answer. The bulk of the film is already in the can, with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s fingerprints all over it. Their vision is on film, and will inevitably have to form the backbone of this movie when it releases. No matter who comes in to replace them, it means extensive reshoots later this summer. It means conflicting visions and confused tones. If Rogue One tought us anything, it just won’t work as intended. At best, we get a movie that nobody truly loves. At worst, we get a prequel sized disaster that threatens to sink all of Disney’s efforts thus far with Star Wars.
That’s why I feel Disney and Lucasfilm need to tread carefully. They need to look at wider picture, understand that audiences patience is wearing thin. They need to look at the bigger picture and make a decision for the good of a franchise. To have the ability to put their hands up and say “It’s not happening”. It’s an expensive blunder to admit, but one that could save Disney’s long-term plans. It’s a movie few Star Wars fans wanted to see anyway, why risk poisoning the well for a sub-par outing?
This Han Solo film will be the fourth outing for them. If The Last Jedi doesn’t capture audiences as intended, Disney may find itself throwing a lot more pressure on a troubled movie than it really should be. Is it really worth the risk and trouble for a film that’s not even that desired? Add this to the daunting task of replacing Harrison Ford – whom many consider THE Han Solo. It was always going to be an uphill challenge convincing cinema goers to overlook a new face in such an iconic role – but now that challenge will be even harder.
The coming days, weeks and months will be monumental for this Han Solo movie, as well as Star Wars as a whole. Disney has a lot of thinking to do when it comes to their movie titan, just how far is it willing to gamble on these Star Wars Stories? I’d much rather they put the movie on ice, admit it wasn’t a good shout and go back to the drawing board. I’m sure a lot of Star Wars fans would prefer this than a disappointing venture to the cinema.
The question is, will Disney and Lucasfilm have it in them to make the tough decision? Or (as I expect) will they plow through in the hope that they can salvage something from the mess they’ve created?