Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm made some major announcements about their Star Wars shared universe last week. The news included an official release date for writer/director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII, as well as a title for the 2016 spinoff film, Star Wars: Rogue One.
Today brings word that Rogue One will not only be the first Star Wars live-action movie that's not part of the central Episode narrative. It will also the first one to not feature a score by John Williams. The film composer legend (who has won five Oscars, among many other awards) provided the score for all six previous live-action Star Wars films - and he is currently putting together musical accompaniment for director J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, for release this December.
Edwards' Rogue One will instead be composed by Alexandre Desplat, as the recently-prolific composer confirmed during an appearance on Radio Classique's Culture Club (hat tip to Film Music Reporter). Desplat, who last month won his first Oscar for composing director Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, previously collaborated with Edwards on the 2014 Godzilla reboot. He's also provided scores for installments in such big name franchises as Twilight and Harry Potter over the past decade.
Williams, as it were, isn't taking it easy, even now that he's 83 years old. He's also scoring his longtime collaborator Steven Spielberg's Cold War drama Bridge of Spies for an October 2015 release, in addition to Episode VII... and chances are good that Williams will end up scoring Spielberg's The BFG (scheduled to release in 2016) too. It was simply never feasible that Williams would be able to score every upcoming Star Wars movie on top of all that, once Disney/Lucasfilm had settled on the plan to have a fresh installment in theaters on (at least) a yearly basis.
Rogue One's title is seemingly an allusion to the Rebel Alliance's elite Rogue Squadron, so the longtime rumor about the film's plot (Rebels teaming up with bounty hunters to steal the original Death Star's plans) might well prove to be accurate. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) will be headlining the movie, but it is not clear who she will be playing just yet.
The descriptions of the film's concept art - coupled with the reports that people like cinematographer Greig Fraser (Snow White and the Huntsman, Zero Dark Thirty) are working behind the camera - suggest that Edwards' feature may well be a darker and grittier "heroes on a mission" adventure than previous Star Wars features. The Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels has already put a fun, yet comparatively more thematically-complex spin on the same pre-Episode IV time period that Rogue One may likewise explore.
Some of the upcoming Star Wars films are supposedly going to combine elements from multiple genres (like the most recent Marvel Studios films have). It's plausible that Rogue One, for example, could be a heist/military operation thriller - one that is filtered through the Star Wars universe, that is. Desplat has relevant experience, should that prove to be the case; not just from his time working on Godzilla, but also the true story-based drama/thrillers Zero Dark Thirty and Argo.
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16th, 2016, and Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017.