After kicking off the sequel trilogy set in the main Skywalker family saga last year with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm is branching out this December by releasing the first live-action spinoff film, titled Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla), the movie tells the story of the Rebel Alliance mission to steal the original Death Star plans, the one that was alluded to in the opening text crawl for A New Hope. As the initial Star Wars installment to be inherently standalone, Rogue One is a very important part of Disney's potential longterm plans for the franchise and could be under more pressure to be successful than The Force Awakens.
This is why it was so alarming when rumors about Rogue One reshoots started swirling across the Internet. Each day seemingly brought a new development, ranging from the reasoning for the pickups to how extensive they will be. Though reshoots have become very common in the film industry, fans were nevertheless starting to worry about Rogue One's potential quality - even though the film remains on target for its December 2016 premiere. All of the stories concerning this stage of the production have painted a muddled picture, so here we'll try to break it down and make sense of it all.
Was There A Test Screening?
The Rumor: In the original report detailing Rogue One reshoots from Page Six, it was said they were the result of test screenings gone wrong. After audiences weren't responding well to the rough cut, Disney executives were in a state of panic and, in an attempt to fix what was wrong, scheduled a period of pickups.
The Followup: While the reshoots are indeed happening, claims of audience screenings were greatly exaggerated. It was later revealed that Disney had not held any test screenings, as was the case with The Force Awakens. In Lucasfilm's account to EW (the closest to an official statement on the matter), word is only Lucasfilm employees and Disney head honchos Bob Iger and Alan Horn have seen the first edit, and odds are they are pleased so far. According to HitFix, the studio is interested in making a good film even better, so the Star Wars Story line is launched with a bang. A Disney source also told Page Six that the filmmakers were prepared for there to be reshoots.
Our Take: Since nobody after Page Six corroborated that there was a test screening, it would appear that only the studio suits have watched Rogue One. Test screenings do happen from time to time (see: early reactions to Suicide Squad), but they're not in Lucasfilm's nature. If they didn't do it for Episode VII, then it's unlikely they'd change their practices for Rogue One - given their penchant for secrecy.
How Extensive Are The Reshoots?
The Rumor: Some believe that these aren't your typical reshoots. Making Star Wars (a reliable source for information on the new films) heard that roughly 40 percent of the movie was going to be redone, and more recently Latino-Review reported that half of Rogue One was going to be reshot. Making Star Wars said the crew would be working six days a week for eight weeks, using a completed screenplay from Oscar winning scribe Christopher McQuarrie as a guide.
The Followup: EW's Lucasfilm sources scoffed at the notion such a large portion of the movie was being reshot. They say the second wave of photography will last for about four to five weeks, wrapping shortly before Star Wars Celebration 2016 in July. Apparently, a majority of the content consists of inserts and talking in cockpits to compliment what was already filmed. The goal is for Edwards to lock in final picture in August and begin musical scoring sessions in September - ahead of the post-production process for Star Wars 7.
Our Take: With so many different reports floating around, it's difficult to determine which one is more believable. That said, fans may want to put their faith in EW's write-up. Lucasfilm has not altered Rogue One's release date, which would probably have to be moved in the event that 50 percent of the film needed to be reshot. This sounds like standard business practice in Hollywood; Suicide Squad underwent reshoots in April, four months before its theatrical premiere. Lucasfilm would obviously never publicly admit something's drastically wrong six months before release, but they can probably be considered trustworthy here.
Will The Tone Be Lightened?
The Rumor: As people tried to deduct the reasoning for the reshoots, a popular theory was that studio executives wanted Rogue One's tone to be lightened so it was more in line with the main saga films. Since Rogue One ends nearly 10 minutes before A New Hope begins, they wanted some consistency between the two.
The Followup: Again, going by the EW report, Lucasfilm maintains that Rogue One is a very different film from The Force Awakens and that's "intentional." At Celebration 2015, Edwards said he wanted to make a war drama in the Star Wars universe, and the crew includes people who worked on Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty. The teaser trailer certainly hinted at a darker film, one that felt unlike the previous live-action movies.
Our Take: Seeing that only a select group of people have seen the rough cut of Rogue One, it's impossible to say at this juncture how gritty Edwards' vision is. Lucasfilm has said in the past that the point of the standalone anthologies is that they can blend multiple genres and play outside the space opera conventions of the numbered episodes. Having each entry feel fresh is the ideal way to ensure Star Wars's longterm viability, so one can hope that's the case. This is similar to the rumors about Suicide Squad's reshoots, which were later confirmed to be for action set pieces. With Rogue One recruiting a new stunt coordinator, action looks to be the main focus of these pickups as well.
Will Young Han Solo Be Included?
The Rumor: On the heels of Alden Ehrenreich being cast as young Han Solo for Phil Lord and Chris Miller's upcoming anthology film, it was speculated that an objective of the Rogue One reshoots was to work in a cameo for everyone's favorite smuggler, getting viewers acclimated to a new actor in the classic role that Harrison Ford is synonymous with.
The Followup: Rumors of Han showing up in Rogue One have been going around for a while, but there's been no official word to date. All Variety's Justin Kroll had to say was the reshoots would "involve the cameo of a very important character" without elaborating further. For what it's worth, EW's sources made no mention of Captain Solo when they addressed the Rogue One situation.
Our Take: It makes sense for Lucasfilm to include some familiar characters to give Rogue One more of a hook for casual audiences. Villain Darth Vader seems to be covering the nostalgia element, and his participation in the story is logical given Rogue One's Rebellion vs. Empire conflict. Having Han drop in might be a bit of a stretch, considering he wasn't involved with the Galactic Civil War until he met Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The timing of Ehrenreich's casting coincidentally lines up with Rogue One reshoots, but the young Han Solo movie starts filming January 2017, so the filmmakers are getting actors together now. Time will tell on this one, as there's no convincing evidence either way yet.
Who's Helping Edwards?
The Rumor: In Making Star Wars' breakdown of the Rogue One reshoots, it was said Christopher McQuarrie would be working with Edwards to ensure everything stayed on the same page after he polished the script.
The Followup: McQuarrie has done work on the Rogue One screenplay, but the filmmaker denied involvement with the Rogue One pickups on Twitter shortly after the rumors arose. Instead, it seems as if veteran Bourne writer Tony Gilroy is serving as the second unit director, while also giving the script an uncredited once over (similar to his role on Godzilla).
Our Take: If McQuarrie says he's not part of the reshoots, there's no reason to doubt him. He was vehemently against the initial reports, so he appears to be telling the truth. Gilroy is a fine addition to the team, especially since he has a history with Edwards and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy's husband, Frank Marshall. He's someone the Rogue One team trusts as a collaborator.
Everyone is in agreement that Rogue One is getting reshoots, but the details greatly differ after that. A massive film like Star Wars is going to be subject to countless rumors, and not all of them will be true. It's important that the fans wade the waters of the Internet carefully because there's no way of knowing what's really going on unless the studio issues some kind of statement. As mentioned earlier, the EW report is arguably the closest thing moviegoers will get regarding Rogue One.
After the dust settled following the Page Six write-up, the consensus seems to be that the film is not in any kind of danger and everything is proceeding as planned. The biggest issue Lucasfilm is facing with the reshoots is reassembling the cast, as many of the actors are off working on other projects. Again, pickups are a common occurrence in the industry (Suicide Squad, X-Men: Apocalypse), but they were misconstrued as a big deal in this scenario since it was Star Wars. Lucasfilm will be promoting Rogue One at Celebration next month, and moviegoers will allegedly "go insane" when they see footage, so for now, it's worth giving the studio the benefit of the doubt.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. 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, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Sources: Various (see links)
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