Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a major test-case for Disney and Lucasfilm’s ambitious plans for the Star Wars brand going forward. The first theatrical live-action feature to not be part of the main numbered Episodes, it’s the beginning of a bi-annual plan to produce spin-off features set in and around the Star Wars universe but exploring other stories and different genres.
However, the film has been plagued by rumors off poor studio screenings and reshoots, leaving some fans to worry if the franchise future is not as secure as it seems. Now, in a new interview, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards has claimed that fans ought not worry too much, as reshoots were long part of the plan.
Speaking to EW about the situation surrounding Rogue One‘s reshoots, Edwards explained:
“I mean it was always part of the plan to do reshoots. We always knew we were coming back somewhere to do stuff. We just didn’t know what it would be until we started sculpting the film in the edit. … There’s lots of little things that we have to get, but it’s all little things within the preexisting footage. … Obviously, you’ve got to work around everyone’s schedule, and everyone’s on different films all over the world, and so it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare. That’s why I think it’s been blown out of proportion a little bit.”
Building reshoots into the production plan for major Hollywood blockbusters is an emerging trend for studios in charge of sprawling multi-production universe brands, and was pioneered by the more recent features in Star Wars’ fellow Disney brand The Marvel Cinematic Universe. As part of this process, studios schedule extra production days and contingency plans in order to “polish” a film into the most desired form based on what has been shot, which can often be a godsend if a production comes back significantly different from what had been hoped for. On the other hand, it can also be a sign of a troubled shoot – or a studio looking to deviate from a director’s vision.
Speaking to fan concerns that the studio may be looking to adjust the film from the dark war movie tone originally touted as Edwards’ main new contribution to the franchise, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy reiterated that this is not necessarily the case – praising the Godzilla director and his ambitious plans for the film, which is set to tell the story of the Rebellion team who stole the Death Star plans that were later entrusted to R2D2 by Princess Leia in the original Star Wars: A New Hope:
“One of the things we’re doing with these Star Wars stories is embracing the uniqueness of the different genres, and we’re very deliberately leaning into the various styles of directors that we’re approaching so that each of these movies will very intentionally have a very different tone and style from the saga films. Gareth has shown a stylistic preference that’s much more handheld, visceral, inside-the-action kind of feel. He does a lot of handheld, intimate, close-up work. That’s not something you’ve necessarily seen in a Star Wars movie before. And we brought in [cinematographer] Greig Fraser, to shoot it, who had done Zero Dark Thirty. So a combination of Greig and Gareth has been, I think, fantastic, and it just gives it a really unique style.”
It remains to be seen what the final form of Rogue One will be, reshoots or not. Much of the storyline is still unknown, though it was recently confirmed that the film will feature the return to the screen of Darth Vader and that Forrest Whitaker is playing the first live-action incarnation of Clone Wars character Saw Gerrera.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.