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‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Firing Is Latest in Long Line of Director Exits

‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Firing Is Latest in Long Line of Director Exits
Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were dumped from the Han Solo spinoff film this week after more than four months of production, an unusually late date to make a shift behind the camera. That leaves the “Star Wars” production scrambling to find a replacement with weeks left of shooting and a scheduled five weeks of reshoots coming later this summer, an unenviable position for one of the biggest franchises in the entertainment industry and all involved.

The film, which is still untitled, isn’t the first to change its director in midstream. Classics such as “Gone With the Wind” and “Wizard of Oz” cycled through filmmakers, while duds like “The 13th Warrior” and “The Island of Dr. Moreau” also brought in fresh blood in the middle of shooting. But despite plenty of precedents, Lord and Miller’s firing is setting tongues wagging.

“It has certainly happened on a number of occasions, but not under such scrutiny and not usually this far into production,” said Leonard Maltin, a film critic and historian.

Frequently, a director is dropped after he finds himself on the losing end of a power struggle. During “Gone With the Wind,” Clark Gable pushed to have George Cukor replaced with Victor Fleming because Gable felt that the filmmaker was paying too much attention to his co-star, Vivien Leigh. While shooting “Spartacus,” Kirk Douglas used his clout to have Anthony Mann replaced with Stanley Kubrick because he believe that his hand-picked substitute could better handle the film’s epic scope. And in “Waterworld” it was Kevin Costner, and not credited director Kevin Reynolds, who handled the film’s final cut after the two clashed on the notoriously troubled and costly production.

Related

Why Movies Need Directors Like Phil Lord and Chris Miller More Than Ever

More recently, Steven Soderbergh left “Moneyball” due to his desire to shoot documentary-style, while Pixar parted ways with the the directors of several of its films, from “Ratatouille” to the “Brave” to “The Good Dinosaur,” over differing creative ideas about the animated offerings. In most cases, these movies survived their filmmaking shuffles to succeed financially and artistically, proving that a rocky path to the big screen does not necessarily foretell doom.

That’s to say nothing of the pictures whose financial backers probably wished in retrospect that they’d pulled the plug on a director. Costly overruns on “Heaven’s Gate,” Michael Cimino’s brooding Western epic, essentially bankrupted United Artists, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Cleopatra” went so egregiously over budget that it brought Fox to the brink of financial ruin. Perhaps another filmmaker would have been able to rein in some of the spending?

But there are reasons why studios have historically been loathe to make a change after cameras start rolling.

“Once a film begins production it’s a runaway train and the backers of the film are reluctant to remove the conductor from the train for fear of it being even more of a disaster,” said Howard Suber, a professor of film history at UCLA. “It becomes a decision between cutting your losses and possibly starting all over again or hoping that things somehow are able to get better.”

It’s harder to overhaul a project without drawing a lot of scrutiny. In the days of “The Wizard of Oz” or “Gone With the Wind,” the public wasn’t as versed in film production — studios might expect a report of a production shakeup in a trade paper such as Variety, but it rarely filtered out across the mass media. That’s no longer the case. From Entertainment Tonight to the New York Times to Twitter, news of Lord and Miller’s ouster was ubiquitous this week.

“The public is now reading about controversies on films and who gets hired here and who gets fired there,” said Dana Polan, professor of cinema studies at Nyu. “That was not a thing before.”

In the case of the Han Solo spinoff shakeup, insiders say that Lord and Miller clashed with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and writer and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan over their vision for the film and its execution. Lord and Miller wanted to inject more cheekiness into the “Star Wars” universe and encouraged improvisation on set. Kasdan and Kennedy believed in adhering more tightly to the script and were concerned that the directors were deviating too far from the franchise’s “house style.” They preferred something that was more reverent, which they might get if Ron Howard or Joe Johnston, both rumored to be in the running for the gig, take over as director.

The Lord and Miller firing is also a reminder of a new cinematic reality. Auteur theory, a popular school of thought in film criticism, once held that the director is the true author of a film because he or she makes the key audio and visual decisions. That view was given so much credence that 1980’s “The Stunt Man” offered up Peter O’Toole as a God-like film director, an artistic zealot willing to trample over anyone and everyone in order to get the perfect shot.

Miller and Lord’s ouster, however, demonstrates the limitations of a director’s power in a rapidly changing movie landscape. It’s a caste structure in which brands, be they costumed heroes or robots, are the true stars in Hollywood. As Lord and Miller discovered, no filmmaker is more important than the Jedi mythology that lies at the heart of the “Star Wars” universe. With billions of dollars in box office and merchandising at stake, studios aren’t as receptive to a director who wants to take an iconoclastic approach to the material.

Related

12 Directors Who Were Pushed from the Director’s Chair

As studios have grown more corporate and more dependent on a few major franchises, productions have become more bureaucratic. It’s Kennedy and her team at Lucasfilm who are making most of the major decisions about where to take the “Star Wars” universe, just as executive teams at DC (Geoff Johns and Jon Berg) and Marvel (Kevin Feige) are exerting enormous control over the gestations of the various sequels and spinoffs that they churn out annually. In the old days, the first move would be to hire a director. Now, a filmmaker is often brought onto a project after a script has been written and even storyboarded.

Whether it’s Lord and Miller on the Han Solo film or Rian Johnson on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the directors aren’t generals marshaling their film crews and casts into battle. They’re hired guns.

There’s a lot less job stability when you’re a mercenary.

Related storiesRon Howard to Take Over as Director of 'Star Wars' Han Solo SpinoffWhy Movies Need Directors Like Phil Lord and Chris Miller More Than Ever'Star Wars' Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Fired After Clashing With Kathleen Kennedy (Exclusive)
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Drive-In Dust Offs: The Last Horror Film (1982)

Joe Spinell was a unique character actor in his time. From supporting turns in The Godfather: Part II (1974), Rocky (1976), and beyond, he was never less than interesting on screen; usually playing a mobster, shyster, or cop, his amusingly sleazy demeanour helped him stand out from the crowd. Terror lovers know Spinell from Maniac (1980), the notorious passion project that he also co-wrote. His follow up on the silver scream was The Last Horror Film (1982), a much more lighthearted take on obsession that not only reteamed him with his Maniac co-star Caroline Munro, but jetted them off to The Cannes Film Festival to boot. And while it doesn’t have the gut punch impact of Maniac, it’s the more enjoyable film.

Shown at the Sitges Film Festival in 1982, Tlhf did not receive a theatrical release stateside; instead most folks had to wait for Media Entertainment to drop it onto home video
See full article at DailyDead »

Dan Ireland, ‘Whole Wide World’ Director Who Co-Founded Seattle Film Festival, Dies at 57

Dan Ireland, ‘Whole Wide World’ Director Who Co-Founded Seattle Film Festival, Dies at 57
Dan Ireland, who co-founded the Seattle Film Festival, served as an acquisitions exec at Vestron Pictures and directed films including “The Whole Wide World” (1996) and “Jolene” (2008), starring Jessica Chastain, has died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 57.

Chastain tweeted in memory of him.

“The sweetest angel left us. Called his voicemail just to hear his voice once more. I’ll miss you baby,” she wrote.

The sweetest angel left us. Called his voicemail just to hear his voice once more. I'll miss you baby. #DanIreland #Jolene

Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) April 15, 2016

The Whole Wide World,” starring a young Vincent D’Onofrio and Renée Zellweger, was a biopic of Texas-born pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard, who created Conan the Barbarian in the early years of the 20th century, and the woman in his life, played by Zellweger (the film was her movie debut).

Ireland was nominated for
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Lost in Karastan review – crazy caper with social-realist plausibility

Matthew Macfayden is a convincingly conceited director on the rocks who is seduced by a dictator’s offer of another shot at success

Award-winning film-maker Paweł Pawlikowski is here in a larksome mood, co-writing with Ben Hopkins this watchable satirical comedy about the international movie business. Hopkins directs, and together they split the difference between Borat and Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories. It’s a crazy caper about a washed-up British director named Emil Forester (Matthew Macfayden) who accepts a flattering invitation to attend a festival retrospective of his work in the comedy fictional state of Karastan. He arrives to find a bizarre and sinister shambles everywhere, and is disconcerted by his fellow guest, hard-drinking Hollywood B-lister Xan Butler (Noah Taylor). But Emil is intrigued by the president’s beautiful aide Chulpan (MyAnna Burling) and by the president himself (Richard Van Weyden) who offers him a lot of money to
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Good-bye, Alex And Mary

It’s definitely been a week for good-byes.

My daughters and I spent the weekend in the beautiful, still somewhat quaint small town of Auburn, California, helping to lay to rest and celebrate the life of my dear aunt Mary Pascuzzi, my fraternal grandmother’s sister, who was the centered matriarch of her own family and a stabilizing force for all of us in her extended family as well. She, and my grandmother, were big fans of classic-era American movies and enthusiastically encouraged my interest, just one reason why they’re both held dear in my heart and in my memory. And being Italian, they both had more than a casual interest in The Godfather when it came out in 1972. I remember my aunt Mary talking to me about having seen it and wondering, me at the ripe old age of 12, if I’d had a chance to go yet.
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Alex Rocco, Emmy-winning Actor, Dead At Age 79

  • CinemaRetro
By Lee Pfeiffer

Alex Rocco, whose hard scrabble life on the streets of Boston prepared him to successfully play crime figures in films and on television, has died from pancreatic cancer at age 79. During his youth, Rocco ran with the notorious Winter Hill Gang, which was founded by the infamous Whitey Bulger. His association with the gang led him to be incarcerated as well as being suspected of having driven a getaway car used in a murder. At one point, his first wife was almost killed when a bomb exploded in a car she was driving. Rocco, who was born Alexander Petricone Jr, took the stage name of "Rocco" on a whim when he saw a bakery truck bearing the Rocco name on it. Fearing that his associations of the Boston mob would lead to his demise, he spontaneously decided to move to Hollywood. He took an acting class that was taught by Leonard Nimoy,
See full article at CinemaRetro »

Alex Rocco, Character Actor in ‘Godfather,’ ‘Facts of Life,’ Dies at 79

Alex Rocco, Character Actor in ‘Godfather,’ ‘Facts of Life,’ Dies at 79
Character actor Alex Rocco, who played casino owner Moe Greene in “The Godfather” and appeared in dozens of other movies and TV shows, died Saturday of cancer in Studio City, Calif. He was 79.

Often appearing as a heavy, hood or cop, in “The Godfather,” he had the famous line, “Do you know who I am?” Recently he had a recurring role in Starz’s “Magic City” and appeared on “Episodes” and “Maron.” His daughter Jennifer Rocco reported his death on her Facebook page.

He appeared in several episodes of 1980s TV show “The Facts of Life” as Charlie Polniaczek, and had recurring roles on other shows including “Starsky and Hutch” and “The Famous Teddy Z,” for which he won a supporting actor Emmy in 1990. He did voices for animated shows including “The Simpsons,” for which he voiced the executive who made Itchy and Scratchy cartoons, and “Family Guy.”

His film
See full article at Variety - TV News »

Alex Rocco, Character Actor in ‘Godfather,’ ‘Facts of Life,’ Dies at 79

Alex Rocco, Character Actor in ‘Godfather,’ ‘Facts of Life,’ Dies at 79
Character actor Alex Rocco, who played casino owner Moe Greene in “The Godfather” and appeared in dozens of other movies and TV shows, died Saturday of cancer in Studio City, Calif. He was 79.

Often appearing as a heavy, hood or cop, in “The Godfather,” he had the famous line, “Do you know who I am?” Recently he had a recurring role in Starz’s “Magic City” and appeared on “Episodes” and “Maron.” His daughter Jennifer Rocco reported his death on her Facebook page.

He appeared in several episodes of 1980s TV show “The Facts of Life” as Charlie Polniaczek, and had recurring roles on other shows including “Starsky and Hutch” and “The Famous Teddy Z,” for which he won a supporting actor Emmy in 1990. He did voices for animated shows including “The Simpsons,” for which he voiced the executive who made Itchy and Scratchy cartoons, and “Family Guy.”

His film
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Report to the Commissioner | Blu-ray Review

Another forgotten gem from the mid-1970s receiving a new Blu-ray treatment is 1975’s Report to the Commissioner, a textured police procedural examining changing social mores and the generalized internal corruptions we’re used to in these scenarios, resulting in tragic circumstances thanks to the sincere ignorance of its protagonist. Yaphet Kotto, a regular supporting player in a number of Blaxploitation features from the decade, is a standout as a weary, sympathetic detective numbed by the machinations of law enforcement. It’s a greatly overlooked title of the era, featuring a variety of recognizable names in early roles as street hoods, and based on a novel by James Mills (The Panic in Needle Park, 1971), adapted for the screen by Abby Mann (Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961) and Ernest Tidyman (Shaft; The French Connection, both 1971). Though its narrative is, at times, a bit rough around the edges, this deliberately paced thriller features rich characterizations and excellent chase sequences.
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

Cinema's Hidden Pearls -- Part I

Cinema’s Hidden Pearls – Part I

By Alex Simon

One of nature’s rarest items, a pearl is produced within the soft tissue (specifically the mantle) of a living shelled mollusk. Just like the shell of a clam, a pearl is composed of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. Truly flawless pearls are infrequently produced in nature, and as a result, the pearl has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, admirable and valuable. Hidden pearls exist in the world of movies, as well: films that, in spite of being brilliantly crafted and executed, never got the audience they deserved beyond a cult following.

Here are a few of our favorite hidden pearls in the world of film:

1. Night Moves (1975)

Director Arthur Penn hit three home runs in a row with the trifecta of Bonnie & Clyde, Alice’s Restaurant and Little Big Man,
See full article at The Hollywood Interview »

When Jean-Claude Van Damme played Predator

Ryan Lambie Jul 6, 2016

In 1986, Jean-Claude Van Damme was the title alien in Predator before he was hurriedly recast. Ryan looks back at what happened...

In the mid-1980s, Belgian martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme arrived in America with dreams of stardom. Possessing a finely-honed physique, thanks to years of training in (among other things) karate, kickboxing and ballet, he was ambitious and brimming with self-belief.

The acting bug bit Van Damme while he was still in his teens: he played “a bad guy with all the knives” in the 1984 French gangster movie Rue Barbare and, determined to further his goal of becoming an actor, hopped on a plane to Los Angeles. His first few years in America were, however, tough. He slept in a rental car for two weeks, and made money by teaching aerobics and martial arts, delivering pizzas, and working as a doorman at a restaurant belonging to Chuck Norris.
See full article at Den of Geek »

When Jean-Claude Van Damme played Predator

In 1986, Jean-Claude Van Damme was the title alien in Predator before he was hurriedly recast. Ryan looks back at what happened...

In the mid-1980s, Belgian martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme arrived in America with dreams of stardom. Possessing a finely-honed physique, thanks to years of training in (among other things) karate, kickboxing and ballet, he was ambitious and brimming with self-belief.

The acting bug bit Van Damme while he was still in his teens: he played “a bad guy with all the knives” in the 1984 French gangster movie Rue Barbare and, determined to further his goal of becoming an actor, hopped on a plane to Los Angeles. His first few years in America were, however, tough. He slept in a rental car for two weeks, and made money money by teaching aerobics and martial arts, delivering pizzas, and working as a doorman at a restaurant belonging to Chuck Norris.
See full article at Den of Geek »

Interview: ‘Birdman’ Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on His First Comedy

Interview: ‘Birdman’ Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on His First Comedy
Recently taking stock of his career, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu began to wonder if he might have gotten stuck in a creative rut of his own making.

“It was like I was on a ladder, and I was getting a little too comfortable,” says the 51-year-old filmmaker as he holds out two clenched fists, miming the grip on that ladder. “I was just doing my work. It was a habit. I was stuck, half out of fear and half out of safety. And I said to myself, ‘I’m going to let go of the ladder.’ ”

See Also: Michael Keaton Bursts Into Oscar Race with ‘Birdman

For Inarritu, letting go meant taking a stab at his first full-fledged comedy, albeit one with a strong undercurrent of existential despair. In the director’s self-reflexive “Birdman,” Michael Keaton stars as an actor once famous for playing a superhero, now trying to save his
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Steve-o Calls Out Celebs For Not Including "Call To Action" In Als Videos

  • TooFab
Steve-o has a bone to pick with Hollywood! The former "Jackass" star posted a lengthy message via Facebook on Tuesday, calling out his fellow celebs for not doing the Als #IceBucketChallenge correctly. The stunt man revealed that while he thinks the challenge -- that has now gone viral -- is a great way to spread awareness and garner donations for the cause, more money could have been raised if celebs let fans know where to donate. Videos: See Which Celebrities Have Promoted Als Awareness With the Ice Bucket Challenge See what else Steve-o said below: To All The People Who Got Mad At Me For This Video: Since the ice bucket challenge began, over 15 million dollars has been raised for Als research. I think that's great, but when you consider the countless A-list celebrities who have actively gotten behind this cause by posting videos-- the fact that not more than
See full article at TooFab »

Lifeforce is September’s Late Nite Grindhouse!

In tribute to Menahem Golan and continuing the Hooper trend…

From the director of Poltergeist and the co-writer of Alien comes a thrilling sci-fi adventure of explosive action and pulse-pounding suspense! With mind-blowing special effects by Academy Award® winner John Dykstra (1977 Best Visual Effects, Star Wars), Lifeforce is a gripping mélange of genres that’s “so bizarre, it’s fascinating” (Leonard Maltin)!

Synopsis

A mission to investigate Halley’s Comet discovers an even stranger phenomenon: an alien spacecraft! Following a deadly confrontation, the aliens arrive on Earth, where their seductive leader begins a terrifying campaign to drain the lifeforce of everyone she encounters. Her victims, in turn, continue the cycle, and soon the entire planet is in mortal danger. And when the mission’s sole survivor (Steve RailsbackThe Stunt Man) sets out to destroy her, he comes face to face with the most charming – and horrifying – being he’s ever known.
See full article at Destroy the Brain »

Director Richard Rush To Appear At "The Stunt Man" Screening, Landmark Theatre, L.A. February 19

  • CinemaRetro
The Stunt Man, Richard Rush’s spectacular and highly entertaining 1980 film starring Peter O’Toole and Steve Railsback, will be screened on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at the Landmark Theatre in Los Angeles. Director Richard Rush is scheduled to appear at the screening, and other cast members are due to be determined as the screening date approaches. From the press release:

Vietnam veteran Cameron (Steve Railsback) is on the run from the police when he stumbles onto the set of a war movie directed by megalomaniac Eli Cross (Peter O'Toole). But when the young fugitive is forced to replace a dead stunt man, he falls in love with the movie's leading lady (Barbara Hershey) while trying to avoid getting arrested or killed. Is Eli trying to capture Cameron's death on film? And what happens to a paranoid stunt man when illusion and reality change places? Completed in 1979 but unreleased until 1980, this innovative
See full article at CinemaRetro »

Schell as Director: Three Academy Award Nominations for His Films

Maximilian Schell movie director (photo: Maximilian Schell and Maria Schell) (See previous post: “Maximilian Schell Dies: Best Actor Oscar Winner for ‘Judgment at Nuremberg.’”) Maximilian Schell’s first film as a director was the 1970 (dubbed) German-language release First Love / Erste Liebe, adapted from Igor Turgenev’s novella, and starring Englishman John Moulder-Brown, Frenchwoman Dominique Sanda, and Schell in this tale about a doomed love affair in Czarist Russia. Italian Valentina Cortese and British Marius Goring provided support. Directed by a former Best Actor Oscar winner, First Love, a movie that could just as easily have been dubbed into Swedish or Swahili (or English), ended up nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Three years later, nominated in that same category was Schell’s second feature film as a director, The Pedestrian / Der Fußgänger, in which a car accident forces a German businessman to delve deep into his past.
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Oldest Surviving Credited Gwtw Performer Has Died

Gone with the Wind’ actress Alicia Rhett dead at 98; was oldest surviving credited Gwtw cast member Gone with the Wind actress Alicia Rhett, the oldest surviving credited cast member of the 1939 Oscar-winning blockbuster, died on January 3, 2014, at the Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community in Charleston, South Carolina, where Rhett had been living since August 2002. Alicia Rhett, born on February 1, 1915, in Savannah, Georgia, was 98. (Photo: Alicia Rhett as India Wilkes in Gone with the Wind.) In Gone with the Wind, the David O. Selznick production made in conjunction with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM head Louis B. Mayer was Selznick’s father-in-law), the stage-trained Alicia Rhett played India Wilkes, the embittered sister of Ashley Wilkes, whom Scarlett O’Hara loves — though Ashley eventually marries Melanie Hamilton (Rhett had auditioned for the role), while Scarlett ends up with Rhett Butler. Based on Margaret Mitchell’s bestseller, Gone with the Wind was (mostly) directed by Victor Fleming
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Oscar-Nominated Actress Featured in One of Universal's Biggest Blockbusters Dead at 99

Oscar-nominated ‘Imitation of Life’ actress Juanita Moore has died Juanita Moore, Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee for the 1959 blockbuster Imitation of Life, died on New Year’s Day 2014 at her home in Los Angeles. According to various online sources, Juanita Moore (born on October 19, 1922) was 91; her step-grandson, actor Kirk Kahn, said she was 99. (Photo: Juanita Moore in the late ’50s. See also: Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner photos at the 50th anniversary screening of Imitation of Life at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.) Juanita Moore movies The Los Angeles-born Juanita Moore began her show business career as a chorus girl at New York City’s Cotton Club. According to the IMDb, Moore was an extra/bit player in a trio of films of the ’40s, including Vincente Minnelli’s all-black musical Cabin in the Sky (1942) and Elia Kazan’s socially conscious melodrama Pinky (1949), in which Jeanne Crain plays a (very,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Video of the Day: Roger Ebert Interviews Peter O’Toole

Irish-born stage and screen actor Peter O’Toole, who became an international star in the title role of David Lean’s Oscar-winning epic Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday at age 81. O’Toole achieved stardom playing T. E. Lawrence for which he received his first of eight Academy Award nominations – Becket(1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favourite Year (1982) and Venus (2006). He is among the greatest actors who ever lived (even if he holds the record for the most Academy Award acting nominations without a win), and so it’s no surprise that the internet has been flooded with countless articles looking back at his legendary career. In 2002, the Telluride Film Festival honoured Peter O’Toole, and as part of the event, Roger Ebert interviewed the legendary actor. RogerEbert.com recently posted a video of the interview, which I’ve embedded below.
See full article at SoundOnSight »
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