Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino has written the music for some of the biggest movies of the past few years, including Jurassic World, Zootopia and Doctor Strange. However, scoring big studio movies has also seen Giacchino’s name get caught up in a larger discussion about how Hollywood’s current approach to film scores is making a lot of big movies sound the same.
This discussion was spurred by a video essay examining the music of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which explained that directors’ love of using “temp music” (cutting new movies to the soundtracks of previous movies) has led to creative stagnation, with composers forced to model their musical scores on the temp music so as not to disrupt the existing edit. Not long after this, it was pointed out that Giacchino’s score for Doctor Strange sounded an awful lot like his theme for Star Trek (listen here).
Eyebrows were further raised when Giacchino was brought on to compose the score for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story just three months before the movie’s theatrical release, replacing the previously announced Alexandre Desplat. And for those who were concerned that the last-minute change might have an impact on the quality or originality of Rogue One‘s music, Giacchino’s recent comments aren’t likely to allay those fears. Speaking to EW (via CBR), Giacchino recalled:
“We were literally planning a vacation when I got the call… At the time, it left me with literally four and a half weeks to write. So it was one of those decisions where you’re like, okay, well… And I was talking to my brother about it. He goes, ‘Oh, come on. You’ve been writing this score since you were 10! You can do this.'”
The usual timeline for composing a film score is two to three months, so four and a half weeks would have left Giacchino with a race against the clock. Indeed, the composer admits that it wasn’t a particularly realistic schedule for such a major film, and that the time constraints were a source of stress:
“It’s not really [enough time]… But you work with the time you have. I’m pretty good at focusing and getting down to business. I saw the film and I really, really, really enjoyed it, so there was no lack of ideas or inspiration, that’s for sure. The only worry the whole time for me was just the schedule… Part of me was stressing out about the timeline. But the other part of me was just like, ‘This is the greatest thing ever! This is so much fun!'”
Although Rogue One features infamous Star Wars villain Darth Vader, as well as a few other familiar faces, it arguably has more to prove than last years Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla), the film is a prequel to the original Star Wars, starring Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, a Rebel tasked with stealing the plans for the Death Star. Rogue One underwent extensive reshoots to get it ready for release, but fans could be forgiven for thinking that the score was something of an afterthought, given Giacchino’s account.