While we’re now just a couple of months away from the release of the first-ever Star Wars spinoff movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm is currently in the midst of readying the second spinoff, the untitled Young Han Solo movie. 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller landed the highly coveted gig, and while it may mark the duo’s biggest challenge yet, they’ve successfully traversed the worlds of action, comedy, and animation spectacle, so one imagines they’ve got the goods to deliver one hell of a Star Wars movie. And now the Young Han Solo project just got even more enticing, as it’s been revealed that Bradford Young has signed on to be the film’s cinematographer.
If you’re unfamiliar with Young’s name, you’ve no doubt seen his work. He got his start with indies like Pariah and Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere before tackling a Western canvas with 2013’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which was followed up by a banner 2014 that saw him deliver truly stunning work in DuVernay’s MLK film Selma and J.C. Chandor’s striking 80s-set thriller A Most Violent Year. Most recently, when Sicario director Denis Villeneuve couldn’t get Roger Deakins for his sci-fi drama Arrival (Deakins was busy with Hail Caesar!), Villeneuve turned to Young to shoot the first contact film. If that’s not one hell of an endorsement—being second choice to Roger Freaking Deakins—then I don’t know what is.
I’ve seen Arrival and can tell you Young’s work in that film is haunting and atmospheric, capturing the film visually in a way that reinforces the themes of grief and tragedy. It’s spectacular but not surprising given his prior work—I mean that Edmund Pettus Bridge sequence alone in Selma is tremendous. And now, he’s going to shoot a Star Wars movie. That is crazy exciting.
While Marvel Studios is keen on keeping all of their films in the same visual spectrum, using the same cinematographers for multiple films in the MCU, Lucasfilm has shown an encouraging willingness to allow their filmmakers to assemble their own unique teams. J.J. Abrams enlisted his frequent cinematographer Dan Mindel for The Force Awakens, Gareth Edwards worked with his Godzilla DP and Zero Dark Thirty lenser Greig Fraser on Rogue One, and when Rian Johnson made the leap to Star Wars: Episode VIII, he did so with his Looper and The Brothers Bloom DP Steve Yedlin at his side.
There’s certainly something to be said about films in a cinematic universe feeling like part of a whole, but Lucasfilm is taking something of an auteur approach to the Star Wars movies, which in turn is letting some of the best cinematographers working today showcase their talents on a massive scale. Young is indeed one of the most exciting DPs working in the medium, and I can’t wait to see what he, Lord, and Miller put together. Now, should Hoyte van Hoytema be waiting by the phone for Star Wars: Episode IX?
Having set Alden Ehrenreich to star, the untitled Young Han Solo movie is currently in the midst of casting ahead of a production start-date of January or February 2017. The film is slated for release on May 25, 2018.