So, if it’s not clear from all the reporting and rumors, things are starting to hit a critical mass for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” or least that’s how it’s playing out in the media. We all know there are reshoots going on, and reports have suggested that Disney execs were basically unhappy with what they had seen in an early cut, concerned that the more serious tone of Gareth Edwards‘ effort, didn’t have the classic feel from the franchise.
While we can’t confirm the rumors that Christopher McQuarrie worked on rewrites on ‘Rogue One’ last year, we do know that both Tony Gilroy and Scott Z. Burns did uncredited rewrite work on the picture last summer. Evidently the team liked what the “Michael Clayton” and “The Bourne Legacy” writer/director had to offer because sources close to the writer and the project tell The Playlist that Gilroy has returned, brought in a month ago on ‘Rogue One,’ and is currently in London working on the screenplay and the reshoots as we speak. We’ve also heard that Gilroy is actually supervising, if not helming, the reshoots himself as well.
Making Star Wars reported that 40% of the movie will be re-shot, and while that’s a difficult number to pin down, we’re hearing that the additional filming will run for six weeks, going on for six days a week, which is much longer than pick ups here and there. This definitely smells of reworking parts of the film. So the ‘Star Wars’ fansite is certainly on to something, they just had the wrong fixer in their report.
“[There’s] a white board of [axioms] that says, ‘how do you define ‘Star Wars’?,” Simon Kinberg, a consultant and member of the extended “Star Wars” braintrust said in a recent podcast, explaining the feeling and mood of the franchise. While Kinberg didn’t fully explain what that tenor is, it’s really beginning to sound like Gareth Edwards’ vision for ‘Rogue One’ doesn’t fit into the overall definition of what a “Star Wars” movie should be.
Now this is a bit of shame. ‘Rogue One’ looks fantastic. The first trailer was one of the best of the year, and a darker “Star Wars” with real stakes and consequences would be refreshing, instead of a picture that plays more toward nostalgic fan service. What’s doubly disheartening is that Edwards had already outlined his vision, which was akin to a war movie, from the beginning.
Last year, Edwards told Flicks In the City (an interview of which you can watch below), that there’s far less moral and heroic sensibilities in his picture. “On ‘A New Hope,’ the good guys were really good and the bad guys were really bad. And so [‘Rogue One’] is really about a time where that black and white is more [morally] grey,” he explained. “Good guys are doing bad things, bad guys are doing good things. And it’s a little bit more about the nature of war and what it takes to do something important for the greater good.”
Edwards is explaining, in trying-to-be-nebulous terms, the plot of the movie which follows a band of mercenaries, outsiders and rebels on a secret, critical mission to steal the plans for the Death Star — the same ones used to blow up the planet-destroying super-weapon in the first “Star Wars” film. “It’s never that simple,” he said of the plan within the movie.
“There’s a heavy price to pay,” he hints at in the end of the interview and if the covert operation to snatch the Death Star plans were anything like they were in ‘Return of the Jedi,’ where “Many Bothan [spies] died to bring us this information,” the picture could end very bleakly for its characters, or at least some of them. Now this isn’t something that sounds like a traditional “Star Wars” movie, but it sounds like a terrifically original one.
“What’s great about everyone at Lucasfilm and Disney is they’re encouraging [about being a bit more free, more brave],” Edwards said. “So I think this film is going to be quite different… and you should expect the unexpected.”
So, here’s some speculation. If this was pitched from the get-go, which it was, perhaps Lucasfilm was on board from the jump, but Disney, who needs another big December four-quadrant tentpole to keep the franchise going strong, may have other diverging thoughts.
Early rumors suggested that ‘Rogue One’ would be a “Dirty Dozen”-like suicide mission to break into the Death Star and swipe its plans and with that in mind, its very reasonable to see a scenario where many don’t get out alive. And perhaps that’s not sitting well with Disney.
While Gilroy may seem like an odd choice to add “fun” to the darker ‘Rogue One,’ remember he’s been a writer in this business for twenty five years and he’s done tons of uncredited fixer jobs. He’s also one hell of a writer/director, and “Michael Clayton” was nominated for eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is currently scheduled to hit theaters December 16, 2016. Watch the Gareth Edwards interview from last year, below.