The balance between a director's vision and a studio's demands can be difficult to maintain, especially in the case of Hollywood movies where hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line. We recently saw a clash between a studio and a director end in disaster when 20th Century Fox reportedly removed Fantastic Four director Josh Trank from the film as soon as principal photography was complete, ordered reshoots to put together a new ending, and released the final version to a chorus of bad reviews and a meager box office take.
Now the latest movie rumored to be undergoing studio intervention is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this year's follow up to the staggering success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie, directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and starring Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) in the lead role, is a prequel set before A New Hope and follows a group of Rebels as they go on a mission to steal the plans for the original Death Star.
According to Page Six's sources, Rogue One is currently in "crisis" as Disney's executives are not happy with the current cut of the movie and have scheduled it for four weeks of "expensive reshoots" starting in July. Page Six's source said that Disney feels Edwards' efforts have "fallen short" of Abrams' accomplishments with The Force Awakens, and that the studio "won’t take a back seat, and is demanding changes, as the movie isn’t testing well."
At this point all of this is just rumor, of course, but it's worth mentioning that Page Six was the first site to break the news that Alden Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar!) had been cast as a young Han Solo in Disney's next Star Wars "Anthology" film.
Reshoots are a standard practice in Hollywood (The Force Awakens underwent reshoots as well), as they allow directors and studios to tweak a film after seeing the first rough cut of it. On its own the news of Rogue One being set for reshoots, even four weeks of them, is no cause for concern; a Disney source responded to Page Six's request for comment by saying that the reshoots had always been expected:
“The filmmaking team and the studio always anticipated additional shooting and second unit work to make the film the absolute best it can be, and the actors were aware there would be additional shooting. Coming off ‘The Force Awakens,’ there’s an incredibly high bar for this movie and we have a responsibility to the franchise and to the fans to deliver the best possible movie we can.”
UPDATE: Deadline has now heard from it owns sources that although Rogue One was shown to Disney executives, it has not been shown to any test audiences (The Force Awakens wasn't shown to any test audiences, either). However, Disney executives did feel that "the first cut was lacking the edge that Force Awakens had and the story needs to jell," which is why the film's reshoots are now underway.
UPDATE #2: THR reports that studio execs felt like Rogue One was "tonally off with what a 'classic' Star Wars movie should feel like," adding that one source described it as "having the feel of a war movie." The goal of the reshoots, according to THR, is to "lighten the mood, bring some levity into the story and restore a sense of fun to the adventure." Some have suggested that the reshoots will be used as an opportunity to introduce Ehrenreich's version of Han Solo in Rogue One.
The main concern here is the rumor that Disney is unhappy with the current version of the film, and may be trying to wrest some creative control from Edwards' hands. That is potentially reinforced by the Disney source's reference to the "incredibly high bar" that Rogue One is expected to meet, and its "responsibility to the franchise" - both of which are indicative of just how much pressure the movie is under. We'll keep you updated on any further reports.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.