With Chris Miller and Phil Lord out as the directors of Han Solo, the big question now is who’s name will appear on screen?
When the news broke on Tuesday that Miller and Lord were out, my first reaction wasn’t about the state of the film, it was literally, “How is the DGA going to handle this one?” The DGA – Directors Guild of America – is the union that watches out for the rights of directors, and it is notoriously draconian. For instance, once it makes a decision there is no appeals process. Its word is law.
One of the biggest laws is that only one name appears as director unless it is a known directing team such as the Coen Brothers, Miller and Lord or the Wachowskis. Even then, they have to get permission from the DGA to share the credit. With Lord and Miller exiting so late in the production, there is going to be a highly unusual set of circumstances where they might have to share the credit with whoever is brought in to finish the film.
Then there is an even more oddball DGA rule that invokes the use of the name of “Alan Smithee.” If a director wants to divest themselves completely of a production and pull their name from the credits, the DGA will use a placeholder name known as Alan Smithee. I actually wrote this up all the way back in 2005, and the rule still applies, although the DGA is known to use other names now. Some rumors are pointing to Ron Howard stepping in to finish the film so the question becomes will it be credited to Alan Smithee and Ron Howard? Miller, Lord and Howard? We just have no idea yet.
On the tail end of all this comes the question of the money. Will Miller and Lord still get any back-end participation on the film? Will they receive the normal royalties? The DGA has a spider-web of decisions to make in this high profile parting.
To say the removal of Miller and Lord was no small thing would be an understatement. You can read a far more detailed breakdown of the potential fallout over at The Hollywood Reporter, but this is clearly not just a case of, “bye-bye guys,” there are a ton of small facets that are going to need to be sorted.
For Lucasfilm to have made this move, things had to of really been off the rails.