Star Wars: Rogue One is a great divider among Star Wars fans. Some hold it up as the high point of the Disney reign, and a great movie in its own right. Others despise it with the intensity usually reserved for Rian Johnson’s efforts.
One thing is for sure, whatever you think of it you are at least a little intrigued about what may have happened behind the scenes. What was the movie originally? How different was it from what we got?
Of course, we know now that whatever Lucasfilm did to Gareth Evans’ vision and the original story is likely to have just been their first moves in what became a long line of disastrous tinkering. No studio has lost so many creatives in such a short time.
This time out the Godzilla director Edwards had the movie retooled on him. Tony Gilroy came in to reshoot and re-write what is rumoured to have been large portions of specifically the third act.
Christopher McQuarrie, Scott Z. Burns and Michael Arndt also did some script doctoring.
Now as part of IGN’s Watch From Home Theatre series more information has been revealed. This time original screenwriters Gary Whitta and Chris Weitz tease someone details.
Alternate titles were explored, including Dark Times and Shadow of the Death Star. How did they end up with Rogue One?
“One of the things that occurred to me, I went back and looked to all the previous films, and this continues to be true even with the sequel trilogy now being completed, the titles of Star Wars Saga films are always either three words or four words long. They just all are.
So it occurred to me that one of the ways we could differentiate this movie from the rest is we had a title that was only one word or two words long. So like Star Wars: Rebellion, Star Wars: Rogue One, let’s do a title that’s shorter so that even from the title of the movie you know this is something that doesn’t necessarily conform to the unwritten rules of the Saga films.”
Whitta confirmed that opening crawls were written then ultimately discarded:
“One of the things that we arrived at fairly early on in the process is that it was OK to liberate ourselves from the traditional storytelling language of Star Wars.”
The lead, Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, went through several changes including deserter, a scavenger and already a Rebel soldier at the start of the film.
Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor was even more complicated. Maybe shedding some light into why Disney+ are going all in on a show featuring this character, Weitz says the character was always meant to be dark and compromised but in earlier versions news much more severe including that he was a double agent and secretly working for Krennic who changes his mind and flips sides, and is exposed.
The box-office of $1billion, so soon after The Force Awakens smashed domestic box-office records, may have seemed like all was rosy. Now, with the benefits of hindsight, are we discovering it was the first sign of something rotten at the core of new Lucasfilm?