While Solo: A Star Wars Movie is not a bad movie, in box office terms, it is considered one of the weakest movies in the Star Wars franchise. After a troubled production, the film massively underperformed and derailed a number of other planned projects, including the Obi-Wan Kenobi movie that has since been reimagined as the upcoming Ewan McGregor TV series. In a new interview, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller discussed how their desire to make sure Solo was not just a fan service movie eventually led to them being replaced by Ron Howard on the project.
While Solo was generally well-received by critics, fans didn’t turn out in the volume expected when the movie arrived in cinemas on May 25th and that caused the movie to be a financial flop due to the bumped-up budget from the cost of reshoots. At the time, the change in directors was put down to creative differences, and it seems that those came down to LucasFilm wanting to put out a regular sci-fi action movie with comedic moments as opposed to the vision Lord and Miller had in mind for a “riskier” take on the Star Wars icon. Speaking to The Playlist, the pair explained:
Phil Lord: “If you’re giving the audience exactly what they expect and a bunch of, ‘just fan service,’ they’re going to end up disappointed, they’re gonna be like, ‘Yeah, this is stuff I already knew. The trick is to figure out what it is they don’t quite yet realize that they want and every idea that you add into the stew is something that you’re like, ‘Oh, that would be a cool thing to see that I haven’t seen before and isn’t the thing that’s expected because I think people are really savvy now and so you have to stay two steps ahead of them and I feel like that’s our job.”
Chris Miller: “You can’t play scared. So, I don’t really relate to some fear of a fanbase. We don’t think about it that way. There are people out there, I suppose, that are trying to game the marketplace and follow a formula. They’re trying to serve the quarterly earnings of a big company, but a company doesn’t make a movie or write a song, these things are made by human beings and we’re always trying to serve the human beings making the movie and the human beings witnessing the movie, always remembering, what you’re putting out there, that’s only half of it. The other half is, there’s a person in a movie theater and you’re beaming sound and light into their face and they make the movie in their brain. So you have to understand that as a relationship and a conversation, put yourselves into the shoes of that person.”
Star Wars Fans Are Happy to Embrace Some Change, But Only If It Comes With Familiarity
The arrival of The Mandalorian on Disney+ proved that it is possible to bring something new to the Star Wars canon that both pleases die-hard fans and draws in new fans at the same time who don’t necessarily know everything there is to know about the franchise that came before. It would seem that with Solo, Lord and Miller wanted to do something that took fan expectations and turned them on their head, similar to how Rian Johnson dealt with The Last Jedi to the annoyance of many. While that approach could be seen as risky, at least it delivers something that gets people talking and discussing the franchise more than simply putting out a film that recycles the past.
The new Star Wars trilogy that began with The Force Awakens was called out for relying too much on the original trilogy to tell its story, and by the time The Rise of Skywalker came out, it became too much a case of J.J. Abrams working out what else he could possibly throw into the mix to make fans point at their screen and less about telling a story that stood apart from the rest of the Skywalker Saga. While Solo ended up being a reasonable hit with most fans, there will always be a question of what could have been if LucasFilm had been more willing to take a chance on Lord and Miller’s alternative vision.