Saturday, June 4, 2016

What's going on with 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'?

The partnership between Disney and Lucasfilm got off to a great start last year with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a critically acclaimed global smash that was pretty much everything that fans could have ever wanted. But can that momentum be sustained? According to numerous reports from people with inside information at Disney, there's already trouble brewing with Lucasfilm's first standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One. On Monday, Emily Smith at the entertainment website Page Six reported that Rogue One is "in crisis" and that extensive reshoots are taking place in July. The Disney executives are reportedly not happy with the current condition of the film and want to make some big changes. No official word was given on what exactly made the execs unhappy, but the next day, The Hollywood Reporter revealed the true cause of the reshoots. According to THR's Borys Kit, the main issue with Rogue One is tone, which many assumed was the case.

The first installment in the Star Wars Story series was always assumed to be a much darker, grittier film, but for Disney execs, it looks like Rogue One might just be too dark. The report cites sources claiming that the film feels like a war movie and that the reshoots are in order to add some "levity" and "fun" to the story, allowing it to feel more like J.J. Abrams' Force Awakens and the other classic Star Wars movies. On Thursday, that seemed like the end of the story. And initially, I was disappointed and kinda upset. Look, the "dark 'n' gritty" approach doesn't always work. And it definitely doesn't always connect with audiences (good example- Batman v Superman). But I also don't believe that every Star Wars film needs to match the tone of the trilogy installments. The point of the spin-off films is to explore corners of the Star Wars universe that we don't always see. Test different tones, tell unique stories, take risks.

However, reliable Entertainment Weekly reporter Anthony Breznican released a story yesterday that totally changed the tone of the news cycle. Breznican did confirm that reshoots are happening, but he says that they were set far in advance and were always part of the grand master plan for this film. He disputed the involvement of Christopher McQuarrie in the reshoots, but did note that Michael Clayton and Bourne Legacy director Tony Gilroy has been brought on to "enhance" the story. Breznican managed to pitch the reshoots as a normal part of the process, and thus, the concerns of many fans have been calmed. He's the most reliable source on Star Wars news in the business, and I have no doubt that he's correct in this instance. We'll definitely see more when Lucasfilm premieres additional Rogue One footage at Star Wars Celebration in Europe on July 15 (per the EW report).

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story stars Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Wen Jiang, and Alan Tudyk, and will debut on December 16, 2016.

Image Credits: Variety, Joblo

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