A picture has started to form of just how much work was done to reshape Rogue One into the movie that's in theaters today. Beware of spoilers ahead!
It's been well-documented already that a fairly significant number of reshoots were done by director Gareth Edwards (with an assist from Tony Gilroy) on Rogue One, but it has not been clear up to this point which specific scenes or even larger portions of the film were reworked before it was released in the final version that's now in theaters (although it seems a substantial amount of material that was glimpsed in the trailers never made it to the finish line).
However, thanks to an interview by Yahoo! UK with Rogue One editors John Gilroy and Colin Goudie, we've gotten a better idea of what was redone and why. Here's your second spoiler warning before we begin ...
It seems that one of the biggest areas in which reshoots took place was the beginning of the movie, where we meet most of our central characters. John Gilroy explained:
"The story was reconceptualised to some degree, there were scenes that were added at the beginning and fleshed out. We wanted to make more of the other characters, like Cassian’s character (Cassian Andor, the Rebel spy played by Diego Luna), and Bodhi’s character (Bodhi Rook, the defected Imperial pilot played by Riz Ahmed)...The scene with Cassian’s introduction with the spy, Bodhi traipsing through Jedha on his way to see Saw, these are things that were added. Also Jyn (Jyn Erso, the reluctant leader of the film, played by Felicity Jones), how we set her up and her escape from the transporter, that was all done to set up the story better."
A number of critics and viewers have pointed out that the movie's opening scenes, in which we meet the characters who will largely comprise the Rebel mission to steal the Death Star plans, seem very jumpy and scattered, so if what we got was the improved version, there must have been very little there to build on in the first place.
Goudie, who was on the movie since the start, points out that the prologue, in which we meet Jyn as a little girl, was always there. But originally the movie jumped right to her first meeting as an adult with the leaders of the Rebellion -- now we see her in prison and then getting broken out of it, thanks to the reshoots.
Meanwhile, Gilroy -- who joined the movie last summer, late in the game, but was brought on to help with integrating the reshoots -- confirmed that the movie's ending was also tweaked to a large degree:
"It changed quite a bit. The third act has a lot going on. You have like seven different action venues, the mechanics of the act changed quite a bit in terms of the characters, and I don’t want to go into too much detail about what had been there before, but it was different. We moved some of the things that our heroes did, they were different in the original than they were as it was conceived."
What was that original ending like? We'll never know, but since Felicity Jones was signed for two movies, it's quite possible that Jyn somehow survived in the original cut, where as it stands now everyone on the Death Star mission perishes. And if you think there's some longer cut of the film that delves any more deeply into any of this, here's Goudie to throw cold water on that idea:
"It was not much longer than the finished film. I think the first assembly was not far off actual release length. Maybe 10 minutes longer? I genuinely can’t remember because that was nearly a year ago now. There’s no mythical four hour cut, it doesn’t exist."
Goudie also mentioned that his initial working cut of the film used the same kind of "wipe" screen transitions that the traditional Star Wars movies use, but that those were dropped once the reshoots started coming in. And Gareth Edwards told Empire (via Slashfilm) that the first draft of the script had a classic opening crawl, but that was jettisoned too.
We may never know what the original Rogue One might have looked like, but clearly this was a film that was changing almost right up until it was pushed out the studio doors. Do you think the Rogue One we got was the best one possible, or would you wager that there is some other version out there that you might enjoy more?