A young Han Solo movie is a bad idea. So who better to direct it than a filmmaking duo that has a track record of turning bad ideas into great movies? Lucasfilm has announced that The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller will take the helm of an untitled Star Wars Anthology film focusing on the adventures of young Han Solo, slated for release on May 25, 2018. The picture already has a screenplay by The Empire Strikes Back writer and Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-writer Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan, who wrote and directed the indie drama In the Land of Women. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will produce, while Lawrence Kasdan will executive produce alongside Jason McGatlin, and Will Allegra is listed as co-producer. The official logline is as follows:
The story focuses on how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley.
When it was first revealed that in addition to a new trilogy, Lucasfilm was also developing some spinoff films, word quickly broke that one of the ideas in the works was a film about young Han Solo. Some hoped this wasn’t true, as the prospect of a Han Solo prequel is not only obvious, but it develops further mythology for a character who doesn’t need it.
And then this happens. Over the course of their career, from their wonderfully subversive animated series Clone High and their first feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to 2014’s one-two punch of The LEGO Movie and 22 Jump Street, Phil Lord and Chris MIller have proven to be among the smartest and most talented filmmakers working today. They don’t just simply turn bad ideas into good ones, they find the emotional center of these silly premises and take the stories to unexpected places, culminating in films that are both wildly entertaining and emotionally affecting. Which makes them the only filmmakers I can think of who make the prospect of a young Han Solo movie sound appealing. If anyone can turn this into something special, it’s them.
For their part, Lord and Miller had this to say about their involvement with the project:
“This is the first film we’ve worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with. We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us. This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you’re late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you’ve loved since before you can remember having dreams at all.”
Speculation abounded as to what Lord and Miller would next direct after their spectacular 2014. They signed on to write and produce an animated Spider-Man film for Sony, they’ve been developing a third Jump Street movie–a crossover with Men in Black–at Sony as well, and they recently signed on to write a treatment for and develop the The Flash movie at Warner Bros., with that studio hoping they would decide to direct. But it appears that Lucasfilm and the allure of Star Wars has won over all.
Per the press release, the Han Solo film will be Lord and Miller’s next movie. That means they likely won’t direct The Flash or the Jump Street/Men in Black film, though they can remain involved in the animated Spider-Man pic since they’re only writing and producing. They most recently penned the screenplay for The LEGO Movie Sequel and are producing that follow-up while Rob Schrab directs, so their involvement in that movie likely remains unaffected.
Miller actually got his start as an intern at Lucasfilm, so this development is a case of coming full circle for the filmmaker. THR adds that the Han Solo movie is not the Star Wars Anthology film that Chronicle director Josh Trank was slated to direct before departing, and Lucasfilm is still looking for a filmmaker to take over that pic, which is expected to focus on the origin story of bounty hunter Boba Fett.
It’s possible Lucasfilm was planning on announcing this news on Friday during its Comic-Con panel, which will be highlighting Star Wars: The Force Awakens but for which we were told to be prepared for some surprises. I’d say this counts as a pretty massive surprise, and a pleasant one at that.
The full Star Wars release calendar that has been officially unveiled thus far is as follows:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – December 18, 2015
Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One – December 16, 2016
Star Wars: Episode VIII – May 26, 2017
Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film – May 25, 2018