Director Ron Howard, who is taking over the reins on the upcoming Han Solo movie from original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, has described the Star Wars spin-off as "a little opportunity that came my way".

A tumultous week in the galaxy far, far away saw Lord and Miller depart the prequel with three-quarters of the movie completed, citing "creative differences".

The way they were - The Han Solo movie cast with directors Chris Miller (bottom left) and Phil Lord (second right)

US trade daily Variety reports that Howard was taking the upheaval - and the task of getting the film in the can - all in his stride when he spoke at the Cannes Lions advertising and media conference in France on Friday.

"I've been a fan forever," the Beautiful Mind Oscar winner told the audience. "It's gratifying to be asked to lend my voice."

Howard's Star Wars history stretches back to 1972 when he was starring alongside original Han Solo Harrison Ford in Star Wars creator George Lucas' coming of age story American Graffiti.

Lucas told Howard he was planning a "fun" sci-fi movie that would use similar effects to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Ron Howard and old friend George Lucas

Howard, whose others films include CocoonApollo 13 and three Dan Brown adaptations, went on to say that he and his wife Cheryl had queued for two hours on the day the original Star Wars opened in the US on May 25, 1977.

Big fans forever - Ron Howard and wife Cheryl were in the queue when the first Star Wars movie opened on May 25, 1977

"I was so moved by the movie," the former Happy Days star recounted. "I was transported by the movie… We literally left almost speechless."

The couple then decided they wanted to see it again, and queued for another 90 minutes.

Alden Ehrenreich has a very big waistcoat to fill as Han Solo

Howard has already begun work on the Han Solo adventure, which stars Hail, Caesar! star Alden Ehrenreich in the lead role. It will resume filming on July 10 with previously scheduled reshoots pencilled in for later in 2017.

Harrison Ford as the original Han Solo

The film reaches cinemas on May 25, 2018. 

As Howard takes the controls, Star Wars fans have been reading scathing reviews for The Book of Henry, the new film from Colin Trevorrow - the man tasked with bringing Star Wars: Episode IX to screens in June 2019.

Colin Trevorrow - New film The Book of Henry has been panned

Before fans get to give their verdicts on Howard and Trevorrow's Star Wars movies, they have director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi to look forward to in cinemas this December.