Rogue One: A Star Wars Story entered 2016 as the year’s most anticipated film, arriving hot on the heels of the highly successful Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie is the first live-action spinoff in the franchise, kicking off a series of standalone anthology projects designed to flesh out the universe in ways the traditional numbered episodes can’t always do. Directed by Gareth Edwards, Rogue One has generated much excitement, in large part due to the fact that it will feature the big screen return of famed villain Darth Vader, whose appearance was teased during Star Wars Celebration 2016 this summer.
Getting a new Star Wars movie annually is a thrilling proposition for fans, but Rogue One was hit with some unwanted controversy earlier this year when word of its reshoots became public. Those closest to the production stressed that it was business as usual and not a big deal, but the flurry of rumors painted a muddled picture. Some reports stated 40 – 60 percent of the film had to be redone. Others said that more humor was being added to lighten the tone. It was also speculated that Edwards wouldn’t oversee the pickups alone, with names like Christopher McQuarrie (who debunked the rumors) and Tony Gilroy becoming attached.
The Rogue One panel at Celebration indicated that things were sailing smoothly, as Edwards was on hand to discuss the experience of making a Star Wars film and the behind-the-scenes sizzle reel strongly illustrated the war drama feel that he was going for. Now, as moviegoers impatiently wait for the second Rogue One trailer, further word on the reshoots suggests there were indeed other filmmakers involved.
In a column on Deadline, Mike Fleming, Jr. stated that he heard that during the reshoot process, it was Gilroy, not Edwards, calling the shots behind the camera. He doesn’t elaborate on this further, meaning fans will largely have to debate amongst themselves as to whether or not this is a valid claim. There were all kinds of theories about Rogue One over the summer, many of which have been negated (see: no Han Solo cameo), so an argument could be made that this is false as well. On the other hand, Lucasfilm’s account to EW confirmed that Gilroy did have a hand in ironing out the screenplay, offering “additional material” after seeing a rough cut. It’s very possible that he was on set to ensure things went according to plan.
Still, it seems unlikely Lucasfilm removed Edwards from the project before the reshoots commenced. As mentioned above, Edwards was at Celebration to promote Rogue One and spoke highly of his time with Star Wars. If there was such a clash between studio and filmmaker that Edwards was pulled from the pickups, chances are he wouldn’t be so jovial during Celebration (or even in attendance). One only has to recall the Josh Trank debacle, in which the former Star Wars anthology director’s appearance at Celebration 2015 was canceled at the last minute due to him stepping down from his proposed project. Edwards was also aware of the fact that the Rogue One team would come together for the reshoots, so he probably had a hand in figuring out the schedule.
This development will no doubt be frustrating for fans, as it makes the situation even cloudier. So much has been written about the Rogue One reshoots at this point, it’s difficult to know for sure what to believe. Nevertheless, the film remains on track for its December 2016 premiere, meaning that in a little over four months (as of this writing), moviegoers will be able to see the final product and judge it for themselves. Many would be in agreement that as long as Rogue One is a compelling, entertaining entry in the series canon, it doesn’t matter who filmed the reshoots. People just want a quality blockbuster to close out the year, regardless of how it was produced.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIIIon 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.