As many viewers may already know, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story went through a bit of an identity crisis before making its way into theaters. Extensive reshoots were done back in the summer to clean up some story issues and add a few additional scenes, but the results weren’t quite as noticeable as they were in, say, 2015’s Fantastic Four or even this past summer’s Suicide Squad, both of which also went through their fair share of re-shooting as well.
During an extensive interview with Yahoo! UK, John Gilroy and Colin Goudie, who were among the initial editors on the film, alongside Jabez Olssen, discussed just what went on during the reshoots and what was changed.
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.
Most specifically, Jyn’s prison cell scenes were added in thanks to the reshoots, and here’s how Goudie described the changes made to the beginning.
The point with the opening scenes that John was just describing was that the introductions in the opening scene, in the prologue, was always the same. Jyn’s just a little girl, so when you see her as an adult what you saw initially was her in a meeting. That’s not a nice introduction.
So having her in prison and then a prison break out, with Cassian on a mission… everybody was a bit more ballsy, or a bit more exciting, and a bit more interesting.
They got there eventually in the film, but this way we came in on the ground running, which was better.
Among the larger changes in Rogue One were the ones made to its third act, which got retooled rather significantly:
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 then they were as it was conceived.
Because you needed to figure that out, and everything else changes. Everything was connected to everything so doing something to one venue would change all the other venues, so really we had to… we were working on that until the last minute, because we working closely with ILM, they were giving us temporary shots and we’d put them in, we’d work them, we’d reconceive again.
If you’re looking for an extended cut in the near future, not unlike recent DC films, you might be disappointed. The final version isn’t all that longer than the one found previously, according to Gouide, which suggests that the theatrical cut is the only one we’ll ever see.
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.
While there are still a ton of behind the scenes details that remain in the dark, we at least have a better idea as to what changed throughout shooting, editing, re-shooting, re-editing and the final product. And this is without mentioning all the Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin scenes, so we know there’s a lot that got retooled here. In any case, whether you agree with the reshoots or not, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is now in theaters everywhere and absolutely destroying the box office.