[UPDATE: Additional sources now report that McQuarrie worked on Rogue One's script.]
Director J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens will serve as the next Star Wars Saga movie; meaning, it will continue the narrative of the six previous installments in the cosmic adventure franchise. However, the scheduled 2016 release Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first in a series of planned Anthology films, which are designed to explore stories outside the main saga storyline - at least two of which will even take moviegoers back in time in the Star Wars universe, as it were.
Rogue One, as it were, will tell the untold tale of how the Rebel Alliance stole the plans to the original Death Star, just prior to the events of Episode IV: A New Hope. The initial script draft was penned by Gary Whitta (Book of Eli, After Earth) then re-written by Chris Weitz (Cinderella (2015)) - though, we are now hearing a third writer did some work on the screenplay.
Latino Review is reporting that (according to one of its sources), Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie did a two-week polish job on the Rogue One screenplay. The site also clarifies that it is not clear when McQuarrie performed the rewrite, seeing as he was preoccupied throughout the first half of 2015 with putting the finishing touches on (and then promoting) his film Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. It's possible the writer/director's Rogue One rewrite was carried out right before (or around the time that) production on the movie got underway back in August 2015 - assuming this report is accurate, that is.
"Last minute" script polishes of such a variety are not at all uncommon in the world of big-budget tentpoles; McQuarrie himself worked on the Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol screenplay, in order to get the script into the proper condition for shooting. Similarly, Jez Butterworth (who, like McQuarrie, worked on Edge of Tomorrow's script) did polish work on the scripts for both of director Sam Mendes' James Bond movies (Skyfall and the upcoming Spectre). Screenwriters will generally go uncredited for doing such revisions, though McQuarrie may end up receiving a "Special Thanks" in the Rogue One end credits if he did, in fact, help to find-tune the narrative.
[UPDATE: Following a few months after the initial report of McQuarrie polishing the Rogue One screenplay, BMD's sources are now likewise claiming that McQurrie did in fact "tighten up and fix" the heist storyline for this Star Wars spinoff, around the time that production on the film was getting underway back in 2015.]
Rogue One director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) has said in the past that his Star Wars Anthology film will bear a stronger resemblance to a Zero Dark Thirty-esque war thriller set in the Star Wars universe, compared to previous installments in the franchise. If so, recruiting McQuarrie to polish the script is a decision that makes all the more sense, given his proven track record in the field of blending sci-fi and war film tropes, on projects like Edge of Tomorrow; not to mention, he's demonstrated a knack when it comes to crafting solid genre fare that concerns operatives who carry out dangerous secret missions (a la the Mission: Impossible series).
Indeed, with Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm planning to release one new Star Wars movie per year on through to 2020 (at least), it will be all the more important for these Anthology films to branch out into different genres and distinguish themselves from the core Saga installments. The more that Rogue One plays out as a McQuarrie-esque action/thriller - and/or the more the young Han Solo Anthology film explores the criminal underworld of smugglers in the Star Wars universe - the less likely filmgoers will get burned out on movies set in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Latino Review
Update Source: BMD