Composer John Powell, who may be best known for his memorable soundtracks to the Matt Damon Bourne series, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda (1 and 2), and How to Train Your Dragon (1 and 2), will be lifting the baton to score the upcoming young Han Solo movie, due in theaters next year. Powell is only the third composer to be welcomed into the exclusive family of Star Wars live-action music writers, which includes the legendary John Williams (the eight Skywalker saga movies) and Michael Giacchino, who scored last December's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The untitled Han Solo movie will be scored in the style of the original Star Wars movies but retain Powell's distinctive voice.
StarWars.com announced the news today about Powell, a London native who has written music for dozens of films since moving to the US in 1997. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his stirring score to How to Train Your Dragon. The composer made his feature film debut in 1997 with the John Woo action-thriller Face/Off, starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Other prominent movies he's composed the score for include Mr. and Mrs. Smith, X-Men: The Last Stand, Hancock, Knight and Day and Pan. He has also scored several animated hits such as Rio, Rio 2, Happy Feet, Happy Feet Two and Horton Hears a Who, just to name a few.
After Michael Giacchino was confirmed as the composer of Rogue One, many fans were upset that John Williams wasn't involved, since this spin-off marked the first time a Star Wars movie wasn't scored by the legendary composer, who picked up his whopping 50th Oscar nomination for The Force Awakens score. Since he's coming back for The Last Jedi, and presumably also for Star Wars: Episode IX, it seems the studio wants to save John Williams' work for the Skywalker saga movies, while at the same time trying out new composers for the spin-offs. Naturally, it will be quite some time until we hear any of his work on the Han Solo spin-off.
This news on the composer comes just hours after an interesting rumor surfaced that may indicate Darth Vader will have a presence in this Han Solo spin-off. Spencer Wilding, who portrayed Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, has been cast in this Han Solo movie, although it hasn't been confirmed by official LucasFilm sources. The news came from Fandomfest in Louisville, Kentucky, a convention where the actor was scheduled to appear this weekend, although his appearance was cancelled, with the festival's official website stating that he will not be attending since he is filming a new Star Wars movie, and since Han Solo is currently the only Star Wars movie shooting, it seems possible that he could return as Darth Vader.
Filming is still on going under the direction of Ron Howard, who took over the production after original filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired. While there was a brief delay in filming to find a new director, the studio is not pushing Han Solo off its May 25, 2018 release date, which is exactly 41 years after the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, premiered in theaters. John Powell is also composing the music for the upcoming Ferdinand, arriving in theaters this December, along with Pigeon Impossible and How to Train Your Dragon 3.