‘Solo’: Why Disney Might Be Getting Ready For the Movie to Fail

There was nothing but optimism about the future of the Star Wars franchise when Disney purchased the rights from George Lucas back in 2012. Immediately, a sequel trilogy, a new cartoon television show, and two anthology films were in the works. Several novels and comic books have been released in the last five years, as well. With something as popular as Star Wars, how could they lose?

As far as money at the box office, it would be tough to imagine any losing scenario for Disney. However, after a mostly warm reception for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been extremely divisive among fans. Solo: A Star Wars Story is due in theaters in May, and there have already been signs that things aren’t going as Disney had hoped. Now, the rumor is that some may already be expecting a flop.

Here is a refresher on everything that has gone wrong with Solo, as well as the latest rumor relating to the next Star Wars anthology film.

Alden Ehrenreich is apparently very bad

Alden Ehrenreich smiles while posing in front of a blue wall.
Could Alden Ehrenreich pull off such a strong role? Critics are skeptical. | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Just a few months into production, Lucasfilm was so concerned about Alden Ehrenreich — the actor taking over as Han Solo — that they actually went out and hired him an acting coach. Think about all of that for just a minute.

This is the chosen actor to take the mantle from the iconic Harrison Ford, who was so incredible in portraying his most famous character. Ehrenreich was not only subpar in his performance, but bad enough that they actually hired an acting coach.

In an attempt to change things up when filming moved from London to the Canary Islands in May this year, Lucasfilm not only replaced the editor of the film, Chris Dickens, with longtime Ridley Scott collaborator Pietro Scalia—they also asked (directors Christopher) Miller and (Phil) Lord to bring on an acting coach … for star Alden Ehrenreich, after registering dissatisfaction with the performance Miller and Lord were getting out of the man tasked with stepping into Harrison Ford’s leather boots.

It’s not all that uncommon for acting coaches to be brought into the fray, but this is no ordinary film. This is Star Wars. Han Solo is hands down the most beloved character in the franchise, which makes finding success a massive uphill climb in the first place.

Next: These two important people were fired.

The directors were fired

Chris Miller and Phil Lord posing together on a red carpet.
Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s vision of the film wasn’t up to par | Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios

Although acting coaches are somewhat the norm, firing directors midway through production is not. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan felt that directors Lord and Miller weren’t sticking to the material that he had written, instead opting to go their own direction far too often. The pair are famous for their work with 21 Jump Street, and apparently they were trying to make Solo a bit more of a slapstick comedy than Kasdan, Lucasfilm, and Disney had intended.

As a result, Kasdan, a Star Wars veteran with screenplay credits for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, sent his concerns up the chain of command all the way to Kathleen Kennedy. Not too long after, Lord and Miller were let go and Hollywood veteran director Ron Howard was brought in to salvage the project.

But that was just 11 months before the movie was set to hit theaters, and at that point ,they were basically hitting the reset button on the whole project. Actor Michael K. Williams actually saw his role cut from the movie completely and was replaced with Paul Bettany, due to schedule conflicts and necessary reshoots.

Next: The film was worse than expected.

Ron Howard had to do a ton of reshoots

Ron Howard holds his Oscars and smiles.
Ron Howard had his hands full with reshoots to salvage the film. | Lee Celano/AFP/Getty Images

Originally, it was thought that much of what Lord and Miller had shot would be salvagable, leaving Howard to shoot around 70% of Solo and put together a movie that fits the vision of Kasdan and Kennedy. But that estimate ended up being pretty light, with basically everything being completely redone.

“His staging ability is so f*cking brilliant,” says Bettany of Howard. “I think he went in and he was like a laser, working out what needed to be done when he looked at the footage. And then, as things moved on, everybody felt so secure with him. And they gave him more. He reshot a lot more than was originally intended.”

It’s possible that this is actually good news. Howard is an accomplished director, with credits such as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Cinderella Man. But he had to understand the script, get up to speed with all the actors, create a vision, and re-shoot the whole thing within a matter of months. There’s little room for optimism here.

Next: Is Disney already preparing for it to flop?

Disney is preparing for a flop

Star Wars Solo logo on black background.
The film has faced problems during production. | LucasFilm

We’re not the only ones that are skeptical of Solo. There are rumors that people working on the movie found the script unworkable, which would be somewhat of a surprise given Kasdan’s history. According to Screengeek, a source close to the film’s production had the following to say:

Disney is bracing themselves for the Han Solo movie to bomb. They were worried about it before all The Last Jedi controversy, but now they’re essentially writing Solo off. The lead actor, Alden Ehrenreich, can’t act, and they had a dialogue coach on hand for all of his scenes. On top of that, the script is unworkable. It’s going to be a car crash.

Coming off the split reception to The Last Jedi, that has to be hard for Star Wars fans to hear. Disney can’t afford to start throwing out clunkers within the Star Wars brand or they’ll risk further alienating diehard fans. There is still hope that this is a bad source and the movie will be fine, but there are other reasons to be concerned as well.

Next: Did we really need a Han Solo story?

A Han Solo story was never necessary

Harrison Ford poses with a weapon.
Harrison Ford as Han Solo | Lucasfilm

When the first two anthology films were announced, Rogue One was met with piqued interest while Solo was a major head-scratcher. Why was an origin story about Han Solo truly necessary? The answer is that it wasn’t. What we know about our favorite scoundrel is well-established in the original trilogy. He’s a smuggler working for Jabba the Hutt. He dropped a shipment after running into some Imperial trouble, and for that he owes Jabba quite a bit of money. At some point in the past, he tangled himself up with Lando Calrissian, won the Millennium Falcon in a bet, and met his good friend Chewbacca.

What else is needed? Ford brought charm to the role of Han Solo, using his rugged good looks to somehow convince the audience — and Princess Leia — to fall in love with him despite his questionable morals and antagonistic style of flirtation. Placing another actor in the role was always going to be tough, with the already hyper-critical fans assuredly dissecting the way every single line is delivered. It’s hard not to feel like the day Disney screwed the pooch on Solo was the day they decided to greenlight the project.

Next: This all could’ve been avoided.

This all could’ve been avoided

Han Solo in Star Wars: A New Hope
We probably don’t need another Han Solo movie. | Lucasfilm

While Solo may be a completely unnecessary anthology film, it would be easy to argue that just about any anthology film is unnecessary. Rogue One is explained in a few sentences at the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope, for example. But the way Rogue One was put together for the big screen made fans realize it was something they didn’t even know they wanted.

It’s possible that this could be the case with Solo, as well, but it seems unlikely. Rogue One focused on new characters with the background being the time period directly before the events of A New Hope. Familiar characters were scattered throughout, but stayed mostly out of the focus. The fact that the new characters weren’t all that likable didn’t really matter, because the story itself was likable.

If Solo were filling in major gaps in the character’s story arc, this would be an entirely different discussion. But from the beginning to the end, Han goes from a selfish hothead to a war hero fighting for the good of the galaxy. He grows up, getting the girl in the process. Does seeing an even less mature Han Solo — played by a different actor — add to that story in any way? We don’t need it, just like we don’t need a movie about a young Luke Skywalker shooting womp rats in his T-16. Somebody should’ve had the foresight to say no to this project.

Next: Will this have a lasting impact on the Star Wars saga?

Could this kill future anthology films?

Alden Ehrenreich sits and speaks into a microphone.
Alden Ehrenreich has big shoes to fill. | Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios

The concern among many fans is that Solo being a massive failure might make Disney hesitant to make future anthology films. The concern is valid, given how knee-jerk the business tends to be in relation to the opinion of fans and critics. But that might be a good thing.

It has been heavily rumored that an Obi-Wan Kenobi anthology film is set to begin shooting in January 2019, although nothing has been officially announced as of yet. Most fans are excited to see Ewan McGregor, one of the few aspects of the prequels that people agree was actually good, back on screen as Kenobi. The 20-year period between the end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope is ripe for discovery.

But after that, what other anthology films are needed? The long-rumored Boba Fett/bounty hunters movie has received a lukewarm reaction among fans, especially after the tragedy of Fett’s involvement in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones as a young boy. What about a Yoda movie? Or a Grand Moff Tarkin movie? None of that is necessary, and at worst, it might actually do damage to the original stories that we know and love.

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