Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is amassing huge numbers as it continues garner praise from critics and fans heading into the final day of what could be a $155 million opening weekend. The hype train hit a big of a snag when re-shoots so close to release were announced, but all of that anxiety has been quelled as positive reviews continue to roll in. Rogue One is a treasure trove of easter eggs and connections to several different aspects of the whole Star Wars universe.
Rogue One is the first of what are expected to be anthology films that live outside the realm of the episodic Star Wars Films. While no official sequel for this film has yet to be announced, the character backstories continue to be explored as evidenced with the upcoming Han Solo film. The success of Rogue One, so far, has already set off discussions comparing the film to Empire Strikes Back; what many fans have labeled as the best of the Star Wars saga. Whether or not that’s true, the ode to the original trilogy is apparent throughout Rogue One.
This film is far more than just a prequel to Episode IV: A New Hope, essentially setting the stage for, and answering lingering questions about, the first film while still maintaining its stand alone status. Director Gareth Edwards spoke to Radio Times (h/t to Cinema Blend) to talk about just how big of a role the film that started it all had on Rogue One. A visit to Skywalker Ranch ahead of filming lead to discovering actual 35mm film from Star Wars: A New Hope. The footage provided the perfect opportunity to satisfy fans of the iconic franchise. Edwards describes the additional X-Wing scene as follows:
“We got the neg documents and found the clips from A New Hope that hadn’t been used. And there’s pilot photography and lines that were never featured in A New Hope. Through the magic of [Industrial Light & Magic], they cut round them and manipulated them and stuck them into our cockpits,” he said. It’s the sort of thing you think, ‘how many people will notice?’ Do you know what I mean? It’s like, is this a lot of effort for very little reward?”
Needless to say, the addition did not go unnoticed. Edwards saw the payoff during the film’s LA premiere when fans in the theater erupted at that sequence. “It was the only time during the premiere where I actually punched the air,” the director admits. Using old footage isn’t the only time Rogue One pulls in familiar elements of the Star Wars universe.
As if giving fans Darth Vader and the Deathstar weren’t enough, there has been quite a bit of chatter about including a 100 percent CGI version of Peter Cushing’s Tarkin character; a feat Edwards was nervous about from the beginning. While there was an actual stand-in, Guy Henry (who provided both a voice and physical likeness), Tarkin’s role in the significance of the Deathstar meant an appearance in Rogue One was too crucial to not be included.
Though the film is not likely to have a follow-up feature, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has done well to set itself apart as a stand-alone while also acting as a wonderful tie-in to the Star Wars franchise.