A Star Wars Story is a 2018 American Sci-Fi-Western based around the
Star Wars character Han Solo, though also featuring his original
trilogy co-protagonists Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian. Directed by
Ron Howard, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Walt Disney
Studios Motion Pictures, it is the second Star Wars anthology film
following Rogue One (2016). Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo
alongside Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie
Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany. The
film explores the early adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca, who
join a heist within the criminal underworld ten years prior to the
events of A New Hope.
At one time Star Wars creator George Lucas
planned live-action TV series titled Star Wars: Underworld that would
have depicted Han Solo's first meeting with Chewbacca and his winning
the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. In 2012 Lucas began
developing a Han Solo prequel film and commissioned Lawrence Kasdan
to write the screenplay. After Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in
2012, Kasdan was hired to write Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015),
leaving his son Jonathan to complete the Solo script. Principal
photography began in January 2017 at Pinewood Studios, directed by
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The duo were fired in June 2017
following "creative differences" with Lucasfilm, and Howard
was hired as their replacement. With an estimated production budget
of at least $275 million, Solo is one of the most expensive films
ever made to date.
Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo
A cynical smuggler who joins Beckett's
crew. When asked how Solo differs from his appearance in other Star
Wars films, Ehrenreich stated, "I think the main thing that's
different is that the Han we meet in this film is more of an
idealist. He has certain dreams that he follows, and we watch how it
affects him as those dreams meet new realities - realities that are
harder and more challenging than he'd expected." Harrison Ford,
who portrayed the character in previous films, met with Ehrenreich,
giving him some insight and words of advice.
Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian
A smuggler, gambler, and self-proclaimed
sportsman on the rise in the galaxy's underworld. Billy Dee Williams,
who previously portrayed the character in the previous films, met
with Glover, giving him some insight and words of advice about the character.
Emilia Clarke as Qi'ra
Han's former lover. Describing her
character, Clarke said: "She has a couple of guises, but
essentially she is just fighting to stay alive. If you've got a
really glamorous lady in a really sordid environment, you kind of
know the glamor is hiding a few rough roads." With regard to her
character's relationship with Solo, Clarke offered that "They
grew up as comrades, essentially. They grew up as pals, as partners
in crime. There is obviously the romantic side of things. But they
grew up together. So they were kids together."
Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett
A criminal and Han's mentor. The character
of Beckett was based on Long John Silver from Treasure Island by
Robert Louis Stevenson.
Thandie Newton as Val: Beckett's wife
Val is Beckett's wife, a fellow criminal
and member of her husband's crew
Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37
Lando's droid companion and navigator.
Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca
Han's Wookiee sidekick and best friend,
who also serves as his first mate.
Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos
A ruthless crime lord who has a history
with Beckett. Michael K. Williams had originally been cast, but he
was removed from the final film after being unable to return to set
during the film's reshoots. Bettany was cast in his place, with the
character being reworked from a motion-capture alien (described by
Williams as half-mountain lion, half-human) to a scarred near-human
Erin Kellyman appears as Enfys Nest (above
left), the leader of a gang of pirates called Cloud Riders. Jon
Favreau voices Rio Durant (above center), "a very cool and
important alien character" and member of Beckett's crew, and
Linda Hunt voices Lady Proxima, the serpent-like leader of the gang
to which teenage Han and Qi'ra belong. Ian Kenny portrays Rebolt
while Clint Howard portrays Ralakili. Additionally, Anthony Daniels
cameos as Tak, enslaved alongside Chewbacca, Kiran Shah plays Karjj
and Warwick Davis briefly reprises his role from The Phantom Menace
as Weazel, a Cloud Rider. Ray Park reprises his role as Maul (above
right), with Sam Witwer providing the voice, reprising the role from
The Clone Wars and Rebels animated TV series. Peter Serafinowicz,
Maul's original voice actor in The Phantom Menace, was initially
brought to record Maul's dialogue, but his vocal performance was
ultimately dropped in favor of Witwer's. Dee Tails appears as Quay
Tolsite, the director of the Pyke Syndicate's operations on Kessel.
Screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan and first
assistant director Toby Hefferman portrayed Tag Greenley and Bink
Otauna, respectively, two characters that first appeared in the Star
Wars Legends comics published by Dark Horse Comics. The scene was not
included in the finished film.
In February 2013, Disney CEO Bob Iger
confirmed the development of two Star Wars standalone films. Disney
CFO Jay Rasulo described the standalone films as origin stories. In
July, Lucasfilm announced that an anthology film focusing "on
how [a] young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom
Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at
Mos Eisley" would be released on May 25th, 2018. The project was
to be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from a script by
Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan. Kathleen Kennedy would serve as a
producer, with Lawrence Kasdan and Jason McGatlin as executive
producers; Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel also produce. It was
also announced Solo's Wookiee friend Chewbacca would appear in the
film. In May 2016, Lawrence Kasdan stated that filming would start in
In January 2016, a list of actors was
revealed for the role of young Han Solo, including Miles Teller,
Ansel Elgort, Dave Franco, Jack Reynor, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman,
Emory Cohen and Blake Jenner. In March 2016, it was reported that
Alden Ehrenreich, Reynor and Taron Egerton were on a shortlist for
the role. Miller called casting the role one of "the hardest
casting challenges of all time", adding that they "saw over
3,000 people for the part". That July at the Star Wars
Celebration Europe III Ehrenreich was revealed as Han Solo.
the following October, Tessa Thompson, Naomi Scott, Zoë
Kravitz, Emilia Clarke, Kiersey Clemons, Jessica Henwick and Adria
Arjona were being considered for the female lead, while Donald Glover
was being considered to play a young Lando Calrissian. Glover was
confirmed for Calrissian shortly after, with Clarke cast as the
female lead the following month. Shameik Moore also auditioned for
the role of Calrissian.
In early January 2017, Woody Harrelson was
revealed to be in negotiations to portray Han Solo's mentor, and was
confirmed to be appearing in the film shortly after. Christian Bale
had previously been in discussions for the role. A subsequent
interview with Harrelson bolstered speculation that he may be
specifically playing Legends character Garris Shrike, but Harrelson
revealed the character's name as Beckett in March 2017. In February
2017, Phoebe Waller-Bridge joined the cast in an undisclosed role,
said to be "a CGI-driven performance" similar to Alan Tudyk
in Rogue One as the droid K-2SO. Waller-Bridge and Thandie Newton
were confirmed as being cast by the end of February, alongside the
announcement that Joonas Suotamo would appear as Chewbacca, reprising
the role from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, where he shared it
with original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew. Michael K. Williams
entered talks to join the film in early March 2017, and was confirmed
shortly after, portraying a half-human, half-animal creature. By the
end of the month, Ian Kenny had joined the cast. Warwick Davis was
confirmed as part of the cast by the end of July 2017.
Peter Serafinowicz was set to reprise his
voice role as Darth Maul and had recorded dialogue during production
at Pinewood Studios. He was later informed by Lucasfilm after the
film's premiere that he had been replaced by Sam Witwer in order to
maintain continuity with The Clone Wars and Rebels animated TV
series, in which Witwer voiced the character.
Filming began on January 30th, 2017, at
Pinewood Studios, under the working title Star Wars: Red Cup. By
February 10th, the film had spent $54.5 million on production.
Lucasfilm announced that principal photography started on February
20th, 2017. Bradford Young serves as the cinematographer for the
film. In May 2017, filming moved to Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Monte
Piana in the Dolomites in Veneto, Italy, to the Fassa Dolomites in
Trentino, Italy, and to the Canary Islands. Lucasfilm replaced editor
Chris Dickens with Pietro Scalia.
On June 20th, 2017, citing "creative
differences", Lucasfilm announced that the directors had left
the project with a new director "to be announced soon". It
was reported that the directors were fired after Kennedy and Kasdan
disagreed with their shooting style; Lord and Miller believed they
were hired to make a comedy film, while Lucasfilm was looking for the
duo only to add "a comedic touch". Lucasfilm also felt the
directors were encouraging too much improvisation from the actors,
which was believed to be "shifting the story off-course"
from the Kasdans' script. To appease Kasdan, who was unhappy with
scenes not being filmed "word for word", Lord and Miller
shot several takes exactly as written, then shot additional takes.
Lord and Miller refused to compromise on certain scenes, such as
filming a scene from fewer angles than Lucasfilm expected, thereby
reducing the options available in editing. The duo were also unhappy
when Kasdan was brought to the London set, feeling he became a
"shadow director". The decision to remove Lord and Miller
was made after a short hiatus in filming taken to review the footage
was reported that Ron Howard, who had previously collaborated with
Lucas as an actor in American Graffiti (1973) and the director of
Willow (1988), was a frontrunner to step in as director. Howard had
turned down an offer to direct Star Wars: Episode I The
Phantom Menace. Joe Johnston and Kasdan were also considered, though
Directors Guild of America rules state that a replacement for a
director may not be someone already involved in the production. Two
days later, it was announced that Howard would take over directing
for the remaining three-and-a-half weeks of scheduled principal
photography as well as the scheduled five weeks of reshoots. Howard
wrote, "I'm beyond grateful to add my voice to the Star Wars
universe... I hope to honor the great work already done and help
deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film." Howard was expected
to arrive in London on June 26th to complete filming. During the
reshoots, actor Michael K. Williams was unable to return to the
production, due to a schedule conflict with filming The Red Sea
Diving Resort, resulting in his part being cut. Williams stated the
reshoots for his character were "to match the new direction
which the producers wanted Ron to carry the film in", and that
he would not have been available again until November 2017; the
production did not want to wait for his availability to make a
release in May 2018.
Howard's friend, mentor and collaborator, made a surprise visit to
the set to encourage Howard on his first day shooting. Intended as a
short meeting, Lucas spent the whole day with the crew. While Lucas
had not meant to interfere, at some point he forgot and asked
"Why doesn't Han just do this?"; Howard included his suggestion.
On October 17th, 2017, Howard announced
that principal photography had been completed, and revealed the title
of the film. Howard used rear-projection visual effects for the
Millennium Falcon cockpit scenes, an updated version of the technique
used in the original trilogy.
In March 2018, after it was reported
Howard had reshot around 70% of the film, it was announced that Lord
and Miller would not challenge for director credit and instead agreed
to executive producer credits. The duo saw an early cut of Howard's
film and provided him with their feedback. Post-production wrapped on
April 22nd, 2018.
The visual effects were provided by
Industrial Light & Magic, Hybride and Blind LTD and Supervised by
Nigel Sumner, Julian Foddy, Greg Kegel, Joseph Kasparian, Francois
Lambert, Andrew Booth, Rob Bredow and Patrick Tubach with the help of
Jellyfish Pictures, Raynault VFX, Lola VFX and Nzviage.
In July 2017, John Powell was announced as
the main composer of the score. Longtime Star Wars composer John
Williams composed and conducted the Han Solo theme, "The
Adventures of Han", for the film. Powell began writing the music
in late 2017 after finishing his work on Ferdinand. In December 2017,
Williams wrote two musical pieces and combined them to create Han's
theme. The following month, Williams recorded the demos with the
Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles at the Newman Scoring Stage.
Powell interpolated Williams' new theme into his score, as well as
incorporating music by Williams from previous Star Wars films,
including the Star Wars main title, and several motifs and cues from
A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Phantom Menace. Said
Powell, "John Williams' involvement was actually a huge factor
in my wanting to take this gig. I have such respect - perhaps awe is
a better term - for the musical history of this series that being
able to have the film-scoring equivalent of Yoda be part of it was a
massive incentive, and an obvious advantage that I could not let
pass. The actual experience of being allowed to see into John's
process? I couldnt imagine a greater gift."
A "sneak peek" TV spot was
released during Super Bowl LII on February 4th, 2018. It became the
most popular Super Bowl trailer on YouTube with 8 million views. It
also had 5.9 million views on Facebook. The first official teaser
trailer was released on February 5th, 2018.
In early March 2018, French artist Hachim
Bahous asserted that Disney had plagiarized a series of album covers
he designed for Sony Music's label Legacy Recordings in France with
character posters for the film. Disney stated they were investigating
the alleged plagiarism and that the Solo posters had been produced by
an outside vendor.
In the weeks leading up to the film, EA
Capital Games announced that new characters based on the film will
eventually be collectible and playable in the mobile game Star Wars:
Galaxy of Heroes, including a younger Han Solo and Chewbacca as they
appeared in the film. Both characters became unlockable on May 17th,
2018, via a two-day limited-time event titled "Preparation Perfection".
Solo had its world premiere in Los Angeles
on May 10th, 2018, and was screened at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
on May 15th, 2018. It was released in the United States on May 25th,
2018, in RealD 3D, IMAX, and IMAX 3D. Solo received generally
favorable reviews from critics who praised the film's acting
performances (particularly Ehrenreich and Glover), visuals, musical
score, and action sequences, while some felt its storyline was
predictable. The film is the first in the Star Wars franchise to be
considered a "box office bomb", grossing only $392 million
worldwide, thus becoming the lowest-grossing live-action film in the
franchise. With an estimated production budget of $275 million, the
film needed to gross at least $500 million worldwide to break even.
the United States and Canada initial projections three weeks before
its release had the film grossing around $170 million over its
four-day Memorial Day opening weekend. Deadline Hollywood noted that
it was tracking higher than the previous Star Wars spin-off film,
Rogue One (which debuted to $155 million). After its first day of pre-sales,
Fandango announced the film was the second-best seller of advance
tickets in 2018, after Avengers: Infinity War.
The film opened in 4,381 theaters, the
ninth-highest total ever, including 3,300 3D locations and 400 IMAX
screens. It grossed $14.1 million from Thursday night previews, the
lowest of the Disney Star Wars films but the best-ever for Memorial
Day weekend, besting the $13.2 million made by Pirates of the
Caribbean: At World's End in 2007. Including Thursday previews, the
film made $103 million over the fourday weekend, far below
projections and marking the lowest Star Wars debut since Attack of
the Clones in 2002, although it did set a new career-high opening for
director Ron Howard.
Many analysts and publications attributed
the below-expectations opening box office numbers to the
behind-the-scenes problems and to a case of "Star Wars
fatigue", since Solo was the fourth film of the series released
in 29 months, and came just five months after The Last Jedi.
Other analysts attributed the film's
underperformance to lackluster marketing, as well as the divided fan
reception to The Last Jedi. Solo dropped 65% in its second weekend to
$29.4 million, the worst sophomore frame for any Star Wars film since
the original trilogy. It dropped another 46% in its third weekend to
$15.7 million, finishing second behind newcomer Ocean's 8, and $10
million in its fourth week, finishing fourth.
The international box office was also less
than expected and a week after its worldwide debut of just $147.5
million, critics began to write about how much the film would lose
for Disney. In June 2018, in response to the film's poor commercial
performance, director Ron Howard tweeted he was proud of the film,
and sorry that fans were not turning out to see it, but was happy for
those who had enjoyed it. The following year, Howard stated that
online trolls were partially to blame for the film's underwhelming
review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Solo has an approval
rating of 70%. The website's critical consensus reads, "A flawed
yet fun and fast-paced space adventure, Solo: A Star Wars Story
should satisfy newcomers to the saga as well as longtime fans who
check their expectations at the theater door." Metacritic gave
the film a score of 62 out of 100, indicating "generally
favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the
film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale, while
PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 89% overall positive score and
a 73% "definite recommend".
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers
gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, complimenting the cast but
criticizing the lack of creativity, saying, "somehow Han Solo -
the roguish Star Wars hellion famous for breaking all the rules -
finds himself in a feel-good movie that doesn't break any."
Bernard Boo of PopMatters wrote, "If
what you want from a Star Wars movie is an action-adventure romp, and
the last two movies in the franchise (The Last Jedi and Rogue One)
felt a little too dreary and heavy on pathos, Solo is sure to lift
your spirits and give you more thrills than you can handle. Some of
the action sequences are seriously breathtaking and will keep you
teetering on the edge of your seat."
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood
Reporter praised the cast and production values but felt the film as
a whole felt too safe and predictable.
For the New York Post, Johnny Oleksinski
gave the film one star out of a possible four, writing that while
Glover was "amusing" in his role, Ehrenreich was "given
an impossible task: to make us forget about Harrison Ford, easily
the most iconic action hero in modern cinema." Ron Howard said
that original Han Solo actor Harrison Ford saw the film twice and
spoke positively about it and Ehrenreich's performance. Solo would
receive a nomination for Best Visual Effects at the 91st Academy Awards.
A novelization by Mur Lafferty, Solo: A
Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition was published on September 4th,
2018 by Del Rey Books and included scenes from alternate versions of
the film's script. Also, a seven-issue comic book adaptation of the
film was published by Marvel Comics starting in October 2018.
Alden Ehrenreich confirmed his contract
deal to appear as Han Solo extended for two additional films, giving
the studio the option to pursue a sequel to Solo: A Star Wars Story,
or feature him in other anthology films in a supporting capacity.
Ehrenreich said he would like any sequels to differentiate themselves
from the previous Star Wars trilogies by being standalone, in the
vein of the Indiana Jones films, rather than direct follow-ups.
Emilia Clarke, who played Qi'ra, also signed on for future installments.
Ron Howard said that while no sequel was
in development, it was up to the fans to decide and the film
intentionally left room open for sequels. Solo writer Jon Kasdan said
that he would include bounty hunter Bossk (who briefly appears in
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and is mentioned in Solo) if he
were to write a sequel for the film. Kennedy also said that a film
focusing on Lando Calrissian could happen, but was not a priority.
Donald Glover also expressed interest in a spin-off film, saying he
would imagine it as Catch Me If You Can in space.
On June 20th, 2018, Collider claimed that
all future anthology films were on hold due to the financial
performance of Solo. A day later, Lucasfilm denied the rumors as
"inaccurate" and confirmed that there are multiple
unannounced films in development. Bob Iger has said that the
production of new films would go on hiatus after 2019's The Rise of
Skywalker, though none were cancelled.
On May 23rd, 2019, the hosts of "The
Resistance Broadcast" encouraged fans on social media to use the
hashtag #MakeSolo2Happen. The campaign was a mixture of celebrating
the first movie and to spread awareness that a sequel is indeed
wanted. The campaign reached multiple people involved with the film,
including director Ron Howard. To express his gratitude, Jon Kasdan
tweeted an image of three crime syndicate logos, hinting that future
stories could still be in the works. Kasdan has hinted that a sequel
could potentially feature Jabba the Hutt, possibly being an origin
story of Solo partnering up with the character.
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