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Disney Orders Reshoots to Lighten the Mood of ‘Rogue One’

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

According to Page Six, this awakening isn’t in a galaxy far, far away, but over in Los Angeles, at the studio that controls that galaxy, Disney, where executives are reportedly starting to sweat. They just saw Gareth Edwards’ first cut of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and per Page Six, they are are “not happy with the movie.” It will now head into four weeks of reshoots later this summer. Page Six describes the movie as being “in crisis.”

Update: THR has more details on the reshoots, and while they are part of standard blockbuster operating procedure, Disney does have a specific reason:

The move is happening after execs screened the movie and felt it was tonally off with what a ‘classic’ Star Wars movie should feel like. The goal of the reshoots will be to lighten the mood, bring some levity into the story and restore a sense of fun to the adventure.

“Tonally off” seems about right, considering Edwards’ approach is more design-oriented and tends to skew toward the, uh, dark side. However, it was our understanding that the Star Wars Story anthology series would have a bit more freedom to play with genre and tone, operating somewhat independently from the Star Wars franchise.

Oh, and as for Page Six’s claims that a “test screening” took place? That’s not true, either. Original story continues below…

Edwards, whose previous movie was the 2014 American reboot of Godzilla, is described in the article as a risk taker who likes “to keep studio influence at a minimum.” In this case, apparently, that’s not going to happen; Page Six’s sources claim the movie “isn’t testing well” and so the studio will be more hands-on during the final phases of post production.

Here was Disney’s comment to Page Six on their report:

“The filmmaking team and the studio always anticipated additional shooting and second unit work to make the film the absolute best it can be, and the actors were aware there would be additional shooting. Coming off The Force Awakens, there’s an incredibly high bar for this movie and we have a responsibility to the franchise and to the fans to deliver the best possible movie we can.

The whole thing could be a tempest in a teacup full of blue milk; most major studio tentpoles go in for a round of reshoots after a first phase of post-production. It doesn’t automatically mean a movie is troubled or in crisis or whatever. And even if the first cut wasn’t great, that doesn’t mean the final cut won’t be much better. The movie doesn’t come out for six months. It could still turn out fantastic.

Without seeing anything about Rogue One besides the trailer, my concern, based on Godzilla and Monsters, is that while Edwards is an exceptionally gifted filmmaker of special effects and large-scale action, he’s not a great director when it comes to actors. And while audiences come to Star Wars for the spectacle, what they really respond to are the characters. The Force Awakens delivered the requisite lightsabers and X-wings, but audiences loved Rey, Finn, and Poe, and their relationships to one another and to the previous generation of Star Wars characters.

Rogue One is already a prequel (set before the events of the original Star Wars, it follows the Rebels who stole the plans for the first Death Star), so there’s going to be significantly less tension around the plot than there was around The Force Awakens. That means the characters are even more important this time around. If the humans (or aliens, technically) don’t resonate, Rogue One could have more trouble on its hands than just the Emperor and his Stormtroopers.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on December 16.

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