Here’s what’s happening with Rogue One:
Over the past week, numerous stories have emerged about reshoots on the first of the Star Wars stand-alone films, and fans have become as nervous and confused as C-3PO at a Star Trek convention.
After reaching out to deeply placed sources on the movie and at Lucasfilm to sort fact from fiction, Entertainment Weekly has learned new details about the state of the project – including who’s working on the new sequences and what those scenes involve.
Here’s what’s true: The film, which is about Rebels stealing the plans for the first Death Star just before the events of 1977’s original Star Wars, is undergoing four to five weeks of reshoots, beginning this month and ending just days before the Star Wars Celebration fan event in London on July 15.
High level sources at Lucasfilm, speaking to EW anonymously, offered some details that place the schedule in context. (Official studio sources declined comment, saying they don’t respond to rumors.)
In what may reassure fans, reshoots were scheduled for the film before even a single scene was shot. It’s standard practice now for large-scale films to build in additional weeks of shooting so filmmakers can tweak a movie after the first assembly cut.
Those reshoots were originally planned for the spring, but were bumped to mid-summer to allow for extra time as director Gareth Edwards and the creative team decided what they wanted to alter. “The changes have everything to do with clarity and character development and all take place [as inserts] within scenes we’ve already shot,” said one source on the project.
In other words, the changes involve more intimate moments – not redoing entire battle sequences or plot lines. “It’s a lot of talking in cockpits,” as the insider described the new footage.
The plan now is to lock picture in mid-August and begin scoring the movie in September – which would actually be an earlier timeline than The Force Awakens, which also underwent several weeks of summer reshoots and locked picture in October.
The rumor that almost half the movie is being reshot elicits both laughter and groans from those closest to the film. While it might seem like spin-control from those working on the film, their logic bears out: “If we were rewriting the movie and reshooting 40 percent of movie, we would not be finishing in August,” a source on the production says. “People really would be panicking – and changing the release date.”
The length of the reshoots adds up because it involves separate contributions from many different actors. Rogue One is an ensemble story with seven major characters, including the outlaw Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), and her team of Rebel infiltrators played by Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk (as a performance capture droid), Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, and Wen Jiang. Ben Mendelsohn costars as an Imperial officer, and Mads Mikkelson has said he plays Jyn’s father.
A source familiar with the reshoots said one of the challenges has been reuniting the cast, many of whom are involved in other movies after the pre-planned reshoots were shifted from the spring to summer. “It is a complicated schedule trying to pull people in around other things they’re doing,” the source says. “And this cast is spread out all over the world.”
A NEW COLLABORATOR
Rumors that Christopher McQuarrie, best known for writing the Oscar-winning script for The Usual Suspects and writing and directing Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, has written a new script and will be involved in co-directing the reshoots are false.
McQuarrie did make contributions to an earlier draft of the script, sources confirm. But that’s the extent of his work on Rogue One. As rumors about his involvement in the Star Wars film began to spread yesterday, McQuarrie himself took to Twitter to deny them.
Attn: bloggers. I’m reading some horseshit rumors tonight. You know where to find me. Do your jobs.
— ChristopherMcQuarrie (@chrismcquarrie) June 3, 2016
But EW’s reporting has uncovered a new collaborator on Rogue One: Tony Gilroy, the writer-director of Michael Clayton. He was brought aboard the project in the spring to offer notes on the first cut and write some additional material to enhance the story.
Gilroy has deep ties to the Rogue One team. He also worked on the screenplays for many of the Bourne films and even directed 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, which were all produced by Frank Marshall, the husband of Kathleen Kennedy, who is the president of Lucasfilm. One source says Gilroy’s trusted by Kennedy and the story team, and has even been recruited to consult on other Star Wars projects.
In addition to his Kennedy-Marshall history, Gilroy has worked before with Rogue One director Edwards, having done similar uncredited work on the filmmaker’s previous movie, 2014’s Godzilla, to strengthen the story before release.
In addition to writing new dialogue for the reshoots, Gilroy will assist Edwards as a second unit director when cameras start rolling again.
A GRITTIER TONE
Fears that the heavy-duty war movie is being watered down into a lighthearted caper are unfounded, according to what EW has learned. “The movie is very different than [The Force Awakens], and that’s intentional,” one source says. “It’s a war film.”
Rumors that Disney executives have forced the changes to make the movie more family friendly are also false. According to EW’s sources, there have been no test screenings, and it’s unlikely there ever will be on a Star Wars film.
The only two individuals outside of Lucasfilm who have seen Rogue One at this point are Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger and studio chief Alan Horn. The vibe on the filmmaking team is that they’re just happy the corporate bosses let them alter the schedule and make the changes. “This is a normal part of our filmmaking process,” said a Lucasfilm source. “We’re working and tweaking and making sure it’s right. This is how you build something in layers.”
But there’s no question: the rumors have freaked out fans. In addition to alarming the audience, this week’s gossip – fueled by a report in the New York Post – has also frustrated the filmmaking team, who are starting to learn the massive enthusiasm for Star Wars can be a double-edged sword. The passion is over-the-top, but so is the scrutiny.
“I can’t think of anything in world of creativity [that isn’t changed or reworked.] You need to do that when making these movies,” a source said, asking that the Star Wars community give them the benefit of the doubt until the Celebration event in July, when some of what they’ve been working on with Rogue One will be unveiled: “People will go insane.”
For more Star Wars news, follow @Breznican.