Earning $2 billion worldwide and reigniting the passion for the “Star Wars” franchise for diehard fans, casual followers and newcomers alike, J.J. Abrams certainly set the bar high with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The movie very openly played on everything people love about the series, even if it meant riffing on the same notes as “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope,” while gently going into new territory. Even when it tipped toward darkness, ‘The Force Awakens’ remained light on its feet, but will audiences be able to handle the gear shift to the reportedly grittier “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story“? It would appear that Disney have some concerns.
Page Six is reporting that the studio has ordered extensive reshoots on the spinoff, with four weeks of additional filming to take place this summer, as executives apparently aren’t pleased with the early cut director Gareth Edwards has turned in. “Disney won’t take a back seat, and is demanding changes, as the movie isn’t testing well,” an insider has told the paper.
It’s a bit surprising that Disney is apparently test screening ‘Rogue One,’ particularly with the secrecy they like to keep around these movies. There were no test screenings of ‘The Force Awakens’ for that very reason, but certainly, ‘Rogue One’ represents a bigger risk. With the film detailing the story behind the mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, it features a whole new batch of characters led by Felicity Jones‘ Jyn Erso, though there are rumors that Darth Vader and Alden Ehrenreich‘s Han Solo will make appearances as well. But even the tone we’ve seen so far suggests something gloomier than ‘The Force Awakens’ and one has to wonder if Disney is trying to course correct (like Warner Bros. has with their “Suicide Squad” reshoots) after seeing growing audience fatigue for dour blockbusters (see ‘Batman v Superman’).
However, Disney says the reshoots were part of the plan all along, and certainly, many franchises these days leave room on the schedule for just that very thing. “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,” the source said.
The next six months until the film’s release will certainly be interesting. ‘Rogue One’ opens on December 16th.