Variety describes a fractious production team, with Lord and Miller in ongoing disagreements about the direction of the film with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, the scribe behind The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi scripts.
A person with knowledge of the production said that the chemistry between the directors and Kennedy was never right.
“It was a culture clash from day one,” the source said. “She didn’t even like the way they folded their socks.”
The decision suggests that although Rogue One: A Star Wars Story permitted some deviation from the traditional Star Wars storytelling formula, the freedom Gareth Edwards was given to make bold directorial decisions only extends so far.
The source said that while Lord and Miller were supposedly hired for their vision and distinctive brand of filmmaking when it came to the “Star Wars” production, Kennedy did not approve of their shooting style and process of interacting with actors and crew. “They weren’t given the leeway to do what they had to do,” the source said.
The duo also clashed with Kasdan, who has been an integral creative part of several “Star Wars” movies, dating back the the 1980 “The Empire Strikes Back.” Like Kennedy, he questioned many of the pair’s directing choices.
“Kathy, her team and Larry Kasdan have been doing it their way for a very long time. They know how the cheese is made and that’s how they want it made,” said the source. “It became a very polarizing set.”
Both parties gave statements to the entertainment trade publication.
“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew,” said Lord and Miller in a statement.
Kennedy said in a statement, “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways.”
According to Lucasfilm, the pair have been fired rather than agreeing to depart, despite shooting still being underway.
Some insiders believe that while Kennedy wants to make a splash by hiring young indie directors such as Gareth Edwards (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) and Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”), she’s ultimately unwilling to empower them to make their own creative decisions.
Unlike Edwards and Johnson, Miller and Lord felt they had earned their stripes, having worked extensively in the major studio system.
Ron Howard – a safe director with a long history of working with Lucasfilm – is reportedly being considered as a replacement to complete the movie.
Lord and Miller always seemed an odd fit for the Star Wars universe, with their irreverent and rule-bending style difficult to see fitting in with the world as it had been defined. Fans presumed, however, that this was exactly what Lucasfilm has been looking for when hiring them to direct the currently untitled film.
The Star Wars: Han Solo movie is still slated for release on May 25, 2018 with the LEGO Star Wars range expected early in 2018. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are producers on The LEGO NINJAGO Movie and The LEGO Movie Sequel.