Gareth Edwards’ “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” came out a success, part of which was because of the ending which everyone’s still talking about. The film’s final act on the tropical planet of Scarif famously underwent major retooling during production.
This past weekend Edwards appeared at the SXSW film festival and briefly chatted with Slashfilm who asked him about the original ending and what was changed. He says:
“I think the main thing that changed at the end…what used to happen, and you can get a sense of this in the early trailers, the transmission tower for the plans was separate from the main base on Scarif. To transmit the plans, they had to escape and run along the beach and go up the tower.
In cutting the film, it just felt too long. We had to find ways to compress the third act, which was quite long as it was. And one real, fast, brutal solution was to put the tower in the base, so they don’t have to run across the beach and do all of that stuff to get there.
That became a decision that eliminated the shots you see in the trailer of the back of Cassian and Jyn and the AT-ATs. That was some of the reinvention that happened. It was all to do with compression.
While much was cut back, one key addition was the famous Darth Vader and his lightsaber scene. Speaking with Fandango, Edwards says in the original version of the movie, the Sith lord never boards the rebel ship:
“He arrives and obliterates the Calamari ship, and then the blockade runner gets out just in time and he pursues the blockade runner. And then Jabez was like, ‘I think we need to get Darth on that ship,’ and I thought, yeah, that’s a brilliant idea and would love to do it, but there’s no way they’re going to let us do it. It’s a big number and we had, what, like 3 or 4 months before release.
Kathy [Kennedy] came in and Jabez thought, f–k it, and pitched her this idea, and she loved it. Suddenly within a week or two we were at Pinewood shooting that scene. [They] came up with a whole shopping list of ideas. 70% we used, and maybe 30% felt a little too extreme. They were things you hadn’t seen him do before…
It just felt right; it felt like the right thing to do. It really is just the greatest hits of Darth; that corridor. And we really didn’t want to do anything you haven’t seen him do so it didn’t throw people off. We kept it to what had been established.”
Asked why none of the deleted material is popping up on the Blu-ray release, he says:
“There’s not an individual scene that you can drag and drop and put on a Blu-ray. There are little things that would come and go during the process of post-production, but they’re not scenes. They’re more moments within the scenes or a single shot. So it’s impossible to be able to do that, and that’s why the decision was made.
The stuff people talk about, like what they saw in the trailer, they’re not scenes you can just put on a DVD. They’re moments within scenes and threads, and you pull a thread and it all changes. It was changing the whole time. It’s not like there was one version and then there was this other version — it was like this thing that incrementally evolved constantly through all of post-production and didn’t stop until there was a gun at our heads and we were forced to release the movie.”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hits Blu-ray and DVD on April 4th.