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(StarWars.com Photo)
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Ron Howard to step in as director for Han Solo ‘Star Wars’ film

(StarWars.com Photo)

The untitled “Star Wars” film that will focus on the roguish smuggler Han Solo was not without a director for long.

In a post to its website, the science-fiction franchise announced Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard would step in to fill the spot left vacant by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The pair left the film during shooting over creative differences.

“At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago,” Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said of Howard’s hire.

“With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film.”

Lord and Miller had previously been considered among Hollywood’s most sought-after directors, having turned “The Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street” into unexpected and widely praised comedy hits. But reports have circulated that the duo, who favor improvisation and irreverent humor, clashed with Kennedy and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, a “Star Wars” veteran and executive producer.

“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 cliche is true,” the directors said earlier in a joint statement. “We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”

The film — which still has weeks of shooting left — will star Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo.

“We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July,” Kennedy said.

Howard has shepherded Oscar winners such as “A Beautiful Mind” and “Apollo 13.” But his recent films, including the “Da Vinci Code” sequel “Inferno” and “In the Heart of the Sea,” have struggled at the box office.

He also has some history with Lucasfilm. He helmed the 1988 fantasy “Willow” and starred in George Lucas’ 1973 breakthrough “American Graffiti.”

Disney reiterated the film’s release date of May 25 next year, suggesting that — at least for now — the “Star Wars” spinoff will be released on schedule. Representatives for the studio declined to comment.

How producers and the Directors Guild of America handle the film’s directing credit will also be closely watched. DGA rules govern the crediting of directors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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