Ron Howard has some outright classics under his belt; Apollo 13, Cocoon, and A Beautiful Mind among others. Recently, the seasoned actor turned filmmaker spoke with the Happy Sad Confused. During the interview he discussed two recent forays into geekdom that didn’t fare too well; The Dark Tower and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
“You’ve Forgotten The Face of Your Father.”
While Howard was only a producer on The Dark Tower it was a film he was clearly passionate about. The film received a critical and commercial drubbing. And rightfully so as the film wasted every opportunity afforded to it by the source material. To his credit Howard doesn’t shy away from that at all. He owns up to the mistakes but gives what seems to be an honest assessment of how it occured.
“I think it should’ve been horror. I think that it landed in a place – both in our minds and the studio’s – that it could be PG-13 and sort of a boy’s adventure… I really think we made a mistake not – I mean I’m not sure we could’ve made this movie, but I think if we could’ve made a darker, more hard-boiled look and make it The Gunslinger’s character study more than Jake. I think in retrospect that would’ve been more exciting. We always felt like we were kind of holding back something, and I think at the end of the day it was that.”
Nearly ten years prior, Howard had set about to turn Stephen King’s genre bending magnum opus into a trilogy of movies combined with two seasons of a tv series. Fans applauded the approach as it was the only conceivable way to tackle such a dense tome. But the studios weren’t willing to finance that.
“The other thing might’ve been to just straight-on tackle it as television first. Disappointing because I poured a lot of myself into it, and sometimes this happens on these projects where everybody’s best intentions – you’re all pulling in a direction, and then you sort of say, ‘Was that the right direction?’ And I wouldn’t say it was all compromise. I do think it was just a sense of maybe too much listening to what you think that the marketplace is calling for instead of the essence of what Stephen King was giving us.”
“Never Tell Me The Odds!”
Being in the industry as long as Howard has (read: damn near all his life) one can see the bigger picture. Unlike The Dark Tower, there was nothing wrong with the end product in Solo. Many naysayers (myself included) walked away surprised at how much Solo got right. Despite that, the film was the first Star Wars movie to lose money. Howard puts the movie into industry/fandom context that provides some plausible reasons for its failure.
The first being release date. Memorial Day weekend may not have been the smartest move for what has become a winter holiday franchise. But nostalgia played a part too in his mind.
“Maybe it’s the idea that it’s too nostalgic. That 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 [only] 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.”
While it is true many of us didn’t want a Solo origin story (and we voiced that loudly in every corner of the internet) it doesn’t explain all of its failures. Trolls and digital vendettas (likely inspired by The Last Jedi and toxic fandom) seemed to play a role as well.
“Not so much the Twitter feed, but it was notable prior to the release of the movie in several of the algorithms, whether it was Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes. There was an inordinate push down on the ‘want to see’ and on the fan voting. Some friends from Silicon Valley explained to me how it works. Under that circumstance, I did not take it personally at all but I felt badly.”
What were your thoughts on Solo and The Dark Tower. Tell us in the comments below.