It seemed like only days ago when Lucasfilm dropped the bombshell on the “Star Wars” fan community that they have parted ways with the directors for the yet-untitled spin-off prequel featuring a young Han Solo from the original trilogy. The departure of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller seemed to cast a shadow over the initial production phases of the movie, even as “Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” slowly counts down the days to its December premiere.

But a “Star Wars” film is a major project, Lucasfilm and Disney overall won’t let it stall for too long. In other words, a new director is on the scene to carry on the work: Ron Howard.

A safe choice

The news came indeed just two days after the official Lucasfilm announcement of Christopher Miller and Phil Lord being dropped from the Han Solo film. This was due to creative differences between the directorial tandem and studio-backed screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. By that point, the film was three-fourths done with its principal photography, and no other movie before this has had a directorial changeover at this critical juncture.

The “Star Wars” spin-off reportedly has only three-and-a-half weeks left of shooting to two, with five additional weeks to allow for necessary reshoots.

Ron Howard expressed his thanks for the assignment on Twitter during the afternoon of Thursday, June 22, remarking on being an original “Star Wars” fan and excited at the prospect of getting to contribute to the franchise. "I hope to honor the great work already done & help deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film," he concluded.

Now that he is piloting the Millennium Falcon so to speak, Howard plans to meet with the crew on set to reassure them. In addition he will confer with the film’s stars. Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton will help walk the new director through a rough edit of the film to figure out what still needs doing.

Connections to Lucasfilm

Ron Howard has been touted as something of a “safe” choice for taking over the Han Solo “Star Wars” film. He is also someone with long-standing connections to both Lucasfilm and George Lucas himself. Howard (credited as Ronny Howard) was part of the cast for Lucas’ “American Graffiti” in 1973, and directed 1988’s “Willow” which Lucas produced. He came into his own in the 90s with hits such as “Apollo 13” and won an Oscar for “A Beautiful Mind” in 2002.

In a way, Howard stepping in to finish directing the Han Solo movie is the fulfillment of a hypothetical scenario out of 1999, when Lucas originally approached him to direct “Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” The next “Star Wars” spinoff will resume filming on July 10, and is expected to release on May 25, 2018.

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