Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been facing a great deal of pressure since it was first announced. The first of the planned Star Wars “anthology” films (read: one-off adventures that fit anywhere within the Star Wars timeline), Rogue One needs to simultaneously establish its own unique tone and identity while still embracing the established style of the Star Wars franchise. That’s no easy task, and it’s allegedly the reason behind the most recent development on Rogue One, with Disney executives having reportedly ordered reshoots of the film after viewing a rough cut of director Gareth Edwards' Star Wars movie.
Rogue One has three official screenwriters right now, though another writer was supposedly brought onboard to do polish work on the script before production began. We're now hearing that a fourth screenwriter may have carried out script revisions for the Star Wars movie before it started filming, too.
MakingStarWars, which broke a number of details about Star Wars: The Force Awakens before its theatrical release that proved to be accurate, has now posted an update on the Rogue One writing front. Officially, Lucasfilm lists the writing credits as story by John Knoll (a longtime Industrial Light and Magic VFX maverick) and Gary Whitta (the original screenwriter hired to do the first draft) and screenplay by Chris Weitz. MSW is re-confirming previous reports that Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation) did uncredited script work on Rogue One, while at the same time reporting that Scott Z. Burns (Contagion) penned a script draft too. Burns reportedly handled the first pass after Weitz, before McQuarrie came in to put together a subsequent script draft.
If true, it sounds as though Burns provided a key foundation for McQuarrie's Rogue One script revisions. The former's filmography reads like a giant study in thrillers, whether overt or psychological (see also: The Bourne Ultimatum, The Informant!, Side Effects) - just the element that this first Star Wars spinoff would seem to all but require in order to function properly.
Then again, that is the crux of this week’s rumors regarding the Rogue One reshoots. J.J. Abrams did set a high bar with Star Wars: The Force Awakens - retaining the fun and sense of adventure that George Lucas established nearly 40 years ago, while at the same time bringing it into the new century. Hence, there's all the more pressure on Disney, Lucasfilm, and Edwards to get Rogue One "right", much like there is for directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord with their upcoming young Han Solo movie (a film that even has celebrated Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan helping out).
Employing a cadre of screenwriters - possibly even during filming - to help out with a movie like Rogue One is nothing new for Hollywood; even Lucas is reported to have relied on his fair share of ghostwriters, such as Carrie Fisher with Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Tom Stoppard on Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The results can (sometimes) more than speak for themselves; the original Iron Man infamously went into production while still undergoing extensive rewrites, and that process ended up yielding a very successful foundation for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. So best to not start panicking about Rogue One just yet.
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.