The Star Wars fan side of the internet – which is a massively vocal portion – recently sensed a huge disturbance in the Force, when it was reported that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – the first planned spinoff film directed by Gareth “Godzilla” Edwards – was in trouble and being sent back in front of the cameras for extensive reshoots. Initial rumours stated that after poorly received test screenings, the Disney and Lucasfilm execs were not happy with Edwards’ first cut and scheduled five weeks of do-overs, with the suits apparently keeping Edwards and co on a tight leash.
A subsequent report then stated that there were no test screenings – which actually sounds more likely, as The Force Awakens also had none due to the secrecy behind their production – and that the Disney Powers-That-Be’s concern was really just the tone of the film. Edwards had stated since day one that this was going to be a gritty war movie unlike any previous Star Wars film. That was apparently not working for Disney who wanted a movie that was tonally closer to the fun and adventurous The Force Awakens. And to that end, they had apparently ordered for 40% of the movie to be reshot, with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation writer/director Chris McQuarrie being brought in to get things ship-shape.
McQuarrie though then threw a spanner in the works of the rumour mill, when he took to Twitter to strongly hint at some untruths in the reports.
And late last week the filmmaker spoke to /Film to elaborate on that statement, explaining that he has absolutely nothing to do with Rogue One.
“If there are any reshoots on Rogue One, I’m not supervising them. For any outlet to say so is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible. Gareth Edwards is a talented filmmaker who deserves the benefit of the doubt. Making a film – let alone a Star Wars chapter – is hard enough without the internet trying to deliberately downgrade one’s years of hard work. Who does that even serve? Let him make his movie in peace.”
You’ll notice McQuarrie said “If there are any reshoots”, meaning that there’s definitely some truths to the reports but just that he’s not privy to that info. Well, EW claim that they are. The news publication, who have thus far been the unofficial mouthpiece for all things Star Wars having debuted most of the new content over the last two years or so, reached out to “deeply placed sources on the movie and at Lucasfilm to sort fact from fiction” and discovered a few things.
According to EW, yes there is in fact five weeks of reshoots happening, running from this month until just shortly before Star Wars Celebration Day on July 15. However, these reshoots are reportedly not in reaction to any fabled test screenings, or the negative reception from some Disney execs.
In what may reassure fans, reshoots were scheduled for the film before even a single scene was shot. It’s standard practice now for large-scale films to build in additional weeks of shooting so filmmakers can tweak a movie after the first assembly cut.
Those reshoots were originally planned for the spring, but were bumped to mid-summer to allow for extra time as director Gareth Edwards and the creative team decided what they wanted to alter. “The changes have everything to do with clarity and character development and all take place [as inserts] within scenes we’ve already shot,” said one source on the project.
In other words, the changes involve more intimate moments – not redoing entire battle sequences or plot lines. “It’s a lot of talking in cockpits,” as the insider described the new footage.
We mentioned in our original article on the reshoots that this type of thing had become extremely commonplace with many major blockbusters. Some of the best and biggest films of the last few years – like, for example, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, or just about every Marvel movie ever – have also undergone weeks of reshoots. They’re definitely not solely indicative of a worrying quality level, but rather its just that sometimes you only get the necessary perspective of what works and what doesn’t once you have the full picture in front of you.
With the reshoots penciled in, Rogue One is currently looking to wrap production in August, four months before its release date, before tackling the leftover things like tweaking the musical score (in comparison, The Force Awakens only wrapped in October, after its own reshoots). And as one source put it: “If we were rewriting the movie and reshooting 40 percent of movie, we would not be finishing in August. People really would be panicking – and changing the release date.” And no, that hasn’t happened .
So if they’re not redoing a huge portion of the movie, then why the lengthy reshoot schedule? It’s simply a case of people and logistics.
The length of the reshoots adds up because it involves separate contributions from many different actors. Rogue One is an ensemble story with seven major characters, including the outlaw Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), and her team of Rebel infiltrators played by Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk (as a performance capture droid), Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, and Wen Jiang. Ben Mendelsohn costars as an Imperial officer, and Mads Mikkelson has said he plays Jyn’s father.
A source familiar with the reshoots said one of the challenges has been reuniting the cast, many of whom are involved in other movies after the pre-planned reshoots were shifted from the spring to summer. “It is a complicated schedule trying to pull people in around other things they’re doing,” the source says. “And this cast is spread out all over the world.”
And as for McQuarrie helping out Edwards, while that rumour is now officially shot down, stomped on and buried, it seems there was a tiny sliver of truth in it. The rumour mongers had just named the wrong seasoned filmmaker. According to EW, it’s actually Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton writer-director Tony Gilroy that’s been brought in to lend a hand. Gilroy also famously wrote all the Bourne movies, and directed Bourne Legacy, which were all produced by Frank Marshall, the husband of none other than Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. Gilroy is a trusted adviser, not only because of his relationship with Kennedy but also because he essentially did the same uncredited script tweaking work for Edwards on Godzilla.
Gilroy’s addition to the production has also now been confirmed by The Playlist and THR. And just what Gilroy will be doing here is apparently penning some new dialogue for the characters, and also serving as second unit director for Edwards on the reshoots. He’s reportedly also been tasked to offer insights on all the other Star Wars films in production.
The addition of Gilroy should also help to alleviate some other fears: All his movies have a very grim and gritty aesthetic to them, which fits with Edwards’ early claims about the tone of Rogue One. And that tone is apparently not changing despite what the rumours may have said:
Fears that the heavy-duty war movie is being watered down into a lighthearted caper are unfounded, according to what EW has learned. “The movie is very different than [The Force Awakens], and that’s intentional,” one source says. “It’s a war film.” Rumors that Disney executives have forced the changes to make the movie more family friendly are also false.
Honestly, this was my biggest concern with these rumours. One of the biggest strengths and appeals of the now defunct Star Wars Expanded Universe is that there were so many different comics, books, video games, etc, that all offered their own different flavour of Star Wars. When the new Star Wars movie universe was unveiled, including the planned spinoffs, that’s what excited me the most. I don’t want a homogenized Star Wars universe, and if this latest report holds true, then we will luckily not be going down that road… Hopefully. Because at the rate this story has been developing, I wouldn’t be surprised that by time this article goes live, there isn’t some other new wrinkle that has been introduced.
So what do you think of this latest report? Has it assuaged your fears or are you still concerned about what’s going on and this is just a Disney PR smokescreen? Has your excitement for Rogue One dwindled as a result or were you not that hyped to begin with?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is scheduled for release on December 16, 2016.
Last Updated: June 6, 2016