Creative differences is a term that is often used loosely when a director is fired from a Hollywood movie.
But it actually appears to ring true in case of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were let go by Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy from their duties directing the Star Wars spin-off that centers on the fan-favorite character Han Solo.
Sources say that the style and vision of Lord and Miller clashed with Lawrence Kasdan, the legendary screenwriter behind the classics Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark and who also wrote, with his son, Jon Kasdan, the script for the Han Solo standalone set (for now) to be released in 2018.
Lord and Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) have a comedic and improvisational style while Kasdan favors a strict adherence to the written word – what is on the page is what must be shot.
The friction was felt almost immediately into shooting, sources say, but the directors always thought it would be worked through. Kennedy, the producer and head of Lucasfilm, decided to back her lifelong colleague, who shaped much of Solo's character in Empire and Return of the Jedi and who had a specific tone in mind for the new movie. The duo also didn't feel they had the support of producer Allison Shearmur, who was acting as Lucasfilm's representative on the London set.
Sources say that Lord and Miller, who had relocated to London with their families for pre-production and production of the movie, were said to have been blindsided by the firing, which they learned Monday, although another source disputed that account.
The production had gone on a short hiatus to review what had been shot and to clear the air.
"Unfortunately, our vision and process weren't aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren't fans of the phrase 'creative differences' but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew," said Lord and Miller's statement.
Lucasfilm and owner Disney have already targeted their replacement, although the companies are keeping mum.
Ron Howard is one of the names that has emerged, accordidng to sources, although some say that Kasdan, who has directed movies like The Big Chill and Silverado, could step in as he is already in prime position to know what needs to be fixed.
Lucasfilm faced a fraught production in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first spinoff film in the stories franchise. Director Gareth Edwards was supplemented by writer-director Tony Gilroy, who helped shape the film.