Rogue One: A Star Wars Story originally hid the film's connection to the infamous Death Star and also had a happy ending that included a wedding, according to its writer. Indeed, last year's Solo wasn't the first Star Wars spinoff venture to suffer from a turbulent production, as Rogue One underwent repeated story rewrites during the early stages and then, once Gareth Edwards had finished filming, Tony Gilroy was bought in to helm significant reshoots. Unlike Solo however, Rogue One defied its difficult creation process to become a critical and commercial success, raking in over $1 billion at the box office.
A defining feature of Rogue One was the film's ability to tell a very different style of Star Wars story, but one that still felt connected to the wider franchise narrative. The crux of Rogue One's script revolved around the Rebel Alliance's attempts to steal the plans for the Empire's new Death Star - something that is referenced but not seen in the original 1977 movie. Another key factor in Rogue One's positive fan reaction was the film's unexpectedly dark ending, in which every main character dies for the Rebel cause.
Rogue One writer Chris Weitz has now revealed how these major elements were absent from certain earlier versions of the script. Speaking on the Cult Popture podcast (via The Playlist), Weitz describes the state of the plot when he came on board and his vision for the changes that needed to be made. Weitz claims:
"The version prior to [mine] didn’t have everyone die. As a matter of fact, it ended with a wedding. I think it was on the presumption that Disney wouldn’t allow characters to die with such abandon. I felt it was necessary because nobody ever mentions them or sees them again. But also because we’ve done this whole sort of theme about sacrifice that it was appropriate that all of our main characters die."
Regarding the Death Star connection, Weitz says that his pre-reshoot version of the script had more mystery surrounding what exactly the Empire were building:
"It wasn’t clear at the beginning of the movie that the Death Star was going to be the Death Star. It was just the sense [in] the Rebellion that something bad was going down and we need to find out about it. There was this developing sense of dread throughout the film."
While Rogue One's production issues are widely known, it's somewhat surprising that the film's obvious Death Star connection wasn't always present in the script, as that part of the story is arguably an integral feature of the finished product. Certainly, many Star Wars fans would likely argue that this change was a positive one, as Rogue One's Death Star connection anchored the film to previous installments and gave the audience an immediate reason to heavily invest in the struggle playing out on screen.
The reveal that Rogue One didn't originally end with everyone dead is perhaps less of a shock, and Weitz's comments about writers having reservations over what Disney would and wouldn't allow were also shared by the Star Wars fandom prior to Rogue One's release. Once again, most would consider this ending infinitely preferable to the "wedding" version Weitz mentions. Not only did the bloody conclusion make sense from a narrative point of view, but it reassured fans that Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm wouldn't dumb down the darkness of the Star Wars franchise.
Source: The Playlist
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019