By Zack Sharf
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Vanity Fair that the company has learned never to recast iconic “Star Wars” characters following the flop that was “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The Ron Howard-directed 2018 movie cast Alden Ehrenreich as a younger version of Han Solo, the hot-shot space pilot famously brought to life by Harrison Ford. Many critics and fans felt Ehrenreich just couldn’t capture Ford’s magic.
“There should be moments along the way when you learn things,” Kennedy sad. “Now it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.”
Ehrenreich, stating: “He is enduringly watchable: He nails Ford’s cocky gait, his roguish eye-twinkle, his puffed-cheeked finger-pointing, and while the performance may initially come across as a highly skilled bit of mimicry, by the film’s end he’s managed to give the role a satisfying new spin. Few would object if Ehrenreich were to reprise the character in future installments (“The Young Han Solo Chronicles”? “Wookiee and the Bandit”?), but a scruffy, nerf-herding smuggler like Han needs room to stretch and make trouble.”
“Solo” opened over Memorial Day weekend in 2018 and brought the “Star Wars” film franchise to a new low after it bombed at the box office with just $392 million worldwide. The film carried a near $300 million production budget. Howard once told the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast that the response to “Solo” was “disappointing.”
“It made a lot of money, it just didn’t live up to expectations,” Howard said. “I came in eager to help, felt like I could, and had a blast. Normally it takes three years, I worked eight months and had an experience. I feel very good about the way it turned out. I loved the way it played to audiences, which I witnessed. All of that I am able to feel good about.”
Howard admitted the film was maybe “too nostalgic,” adding, ” going back and revisiting an origin story for a beloved character may not be what the fans were looking for. It seemed to me looking at the opening, big but not as big as the others, I think that was the hardcore fans. [The drop-off] tells you how many people are tagalongs who need to wait to see what people think or if it’s essential, if it’s a zeitgeist movie or not. It didn’t hit the zeitgeist, for whatever reason.”