- "You know, he's younger in this movie and that's fun because you have to imagine him 10 years earlier in his early 20s. What was he like before he hardened up? Before he had some setbacks? Before he put on this cynical coat? What got him there?"
- ―Lawrence Kasdan
Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second upcoming stand-alone Star Wars film and the tenth live-action feature film in the franchise. The film, directed by Ron Howard from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in the years prior to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Donald Glover portrays Lando Calrissian and Joonas Suotamo portrays Chewbacca. Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge also star.
The film was first announced as a Han Solo picture in 2015, along with the news that Christopher Miller and Phil Lord would be the film's directors. Principal photography began in January 2017, after which point creative differences arose between the two directors and the studio. Various media reports have stated that Miller and Lord's improvisational style clashed with Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan's vision for the film, and that the film's producer, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, ultimately sided with Kasdan. It was announced on June 20, 2017 that Miller and Lord had been removed from the project. Ron Howard was announced as the new director for the film on June 22, and he was tasked with completing principal photography along with what has been reported to be extensive reshoots.
The earliest incarnation of a live-action depiction of young Han Solo came during the pre-production of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Writer and director George Lucas conceived an idea of Solo as a child on Kashyyyk, with Chewbacca raising the young boy like a son. Solo would have been present during the Battle of Kashyyyk and would have encountered Yoda, helping the Jedi Master discover scraps of a droid that could have aided Yoda in determining the whereabouts of General Grievous. Concept art from Iain McCaig showed the young Solo as a slob, a juxtaposition of the character in his later years. "He's such a persnickety guy later — he always has to have the best of everything," McCaig said in The Art of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, "so I thought it'd be great if when he was a kid, he was an absolute slob." These concepts never made it out of pre-production, and Solo did not appear in Revenge of the Sith—though Chewbacca ultimately did make a cameo appearance during the battle.
After the release of Revenge of the Sith, Lucas began planning a live-action television series called Star Wars: Underworld, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The series, dealing with elements of the criminal underworld, could have included some of Solo's backstory. According to Stephen Scaia, one of the writers of the ultimately unproduced series revealed that the writers came up with a story for how Solo met Chewbacca. Another story would have dealt with how Solo first met Lando Calrissian, who first appeared in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.
- "…George had sort of roughed-out many movies—not just the new trilogy but other movies, the spinoffs and things. I wasn't sure I wanted to do anything, but I said, "I could do the Han Solo movie"—because he's my favorite character."
- ―Lawrence Kasdan
Ideas for a young Han Solo film began to percolate in the lead up to The Walt Disney Company's acquisition to Lucasfilm. In October 2012, as Lucas was preparing to sell his company, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy contacted Lawrence Kasdan, writer of The Empire Strikes Back and co-writer of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and asked him to meet her and Lucas to discuss new films in the Star Wars franchise. Kasdan recounted that Lucas had already come up with some basic ideas for the sequel trilogy and had also come up with the concept of stand-alone films. One of those movies was about young Han Solo, before the events of A New Hope. Kasdan was initially hesitant on being part of the new films, but he decided he could do the Han Solo movie as Solo was his favorite character. He was also hired to consult on and, alongside director J.J. Abrams, eventually co-write what became Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens.
The existence of a Kasdan-driven stand-alone film was first announced on February 5, 2013. The announcement came with word that Kasdan would write one film, while Simon Kinberg would be working on another. In an investor call, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed that the original focus of Lucasfilm was for the sequel trilogy but that they were also working on stand-alones that would not be part of the core Star Wars Saga. It was not until July 7, 2015 that the film's release date of May 25, 2018 and its focus on a young Han Solo were announced. It was further announced that the project would be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord. Jon Kasdan, Lawrence's son, was also announced as a co-writer. On March 8, 2016, Iger confirmed that the film was an "origin story about Han Solo and Chewie".
Several thousand actors auditioned for the part of Solo, before Alden Ehrenreich was officially announced during Celebration Europe. Additional casting announcements revealed that Donald Glover would play Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke would play an unannounced role.
- "I think in terms of us leaving the project, I think everybody went in with really good intentions and our approach to making the movie was different than theirs. That was a really big gap to bridge, and it proved to be too big."
- ―Phil Lord
Principal photography began in January 2017, with a working title of "Star Wars: Red Cup." By March, a film crew was present in Fuerteventura, Spain. One of the three rewards in the 2017 Force for Change fundraiser will be a role in the film.
On June 20, 2017, Lucasfilm announced that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were departing from the project due to creative differences and that a new director would be announced soon. Entertainment Weekly reported that Lord and Miller encouraged an improvisational style on set, which Lucasfilm insiders believed was moving the film away from the vision crafted by the Kasdans in their script and ended up significantly changing the story. Lucasfilm believed that these apparent issues could be fixed during reshoots, but Lord and Miller were reportedly reluctant to significantly alter their approach to the film. As a result, Kennedy made the decision to remove Lord and Miller from the production.
On June 22, it was announced by Lucasfilm that Ron Howard would take over directorial duties for the film. Howard had previously worked as actor and director respectively on two previous Lucasfilm projects: 1973's American Graffiti and 1988's Willow (which starred Star Wars veteran Warwick Davis, who also makes a cameo in the Han Solo film). After the announcement, Howard said that he had been a fan of Star Wars since the beginning and that he found it "gratifying to be asked to lend my voice to the [Star Wars] universe." Michael Kenneth Williams was originally cast in the film but was unavailable for the reshoots, so he was replaced by Paul Bettany.
On October 14, it was announced that screenwriter Jon Kasdan and first assistant director Toby Hefferman will portray Tag and Bink, two characters that first appeared in the Star Wars comics published by Dark Horse Comics.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is scheduled to be released on May 25, 2018, the 41st anniversary of the release of A New Hope in which Harrison Ford first appeared as Han Solo. Despite the firing of Lord and Miller, Lucasfilm has maintained that the film is still on schedule for its intended release date.
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