The Millennium Falcon has a new pilot.
Ron Howard has been named as the new director of Lucasfilm and Disney's untitled Han Solo movie, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter exclusively. The official announcement came later Thursday morning.
The move comes two days after directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go from the movie they had spent over four and a half months directing. Creative differences over style and tone came to a head between the duo and Lawrence Kasdan, with the studio backing the veteran screenwriter.
The firing sent shockwaves around Hollywood and beyond as the movie was about three-quarters through principal photography and the replacement of a director at that stage is near-unprecedented. The movie was scheduled to shoot for three and a half more weeks, with five weeks of reshoots built into the schedule — the latter a standard procedure on large franchise productions.
Howard, sources tell THR, will meet with the actors — Alden Ehrenreich is playing the iconic smuggler and Donald Glover is portraying 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 needs. Filming is set to resume July 10.
"I'm beyond grateful to add my voice to the Star Wars Universe after being a fan since 5/25/77," Howard tweeted Thursday afternoon. "I hope to honor the great work already done & help deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film."
Howard, who directed 1995's Apollo 13 and won an Oscar for helming 2002's A Beautiful Mind, comes to the Han Solo film with several connections to George Lucas and the worlds of Lucasfilm. He appeared in Lucas' 1973 breakout film American Graffiti and helmed Lucas' 1988 pet fantasy project Willow. Howard also revealed on a podcast in 2015 that Lucas had approached him to direct the 1999 Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace.
Though his recent movies, including Inferno and In the Heart of the Sea, have been costly ventures that underperformed at the box office, Howard is considered to be a safe choice to complete the task, someone who will ably finish the movie while being a calming presence on set.
"At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began 40 years ago," Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said in a statement. "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."
Howard is repped by CAA.
The untitled Han Solo film is slated for release on May 25, 2018.
June 22, 7:50 a.m. Updated with statement.
June 22, 3:55 p.m. Updated with Howard tweet.