Photo Credit: Lucasfilm / Disney
It seems Rogue One, the newest Star Wars film, could have had a very different ending. The movie underwent extensive reshoots in June, and the changes to its story structure are clear from how little of the first teaser trailer ended up in the final version. And while Disney may never tell us how different that one could have been, director Gareth Edwards has revealed a bit. Specifically, about a different ending.
(Note: major spoilers for Rogue One below. Proceed with caution.)
Speaking in a podcast with Empire (it’s now offline, but will return next week), he said that the original script wasn’t as dark as the finished film. In that, not all of the cast die in the battle on Scarif. “The very first version, they didn’t,” Edwards adds. “In the screenplay. And it was just assumed by us that we couldn’t do that. ‘They’re not going to let us do that.’”
When Edwards says ‘they’, he’s referring to the Disney studio heads. The scriptwriters and the director assumed they wouldn’t be allowed to kill off all the characters what with Disney’s reputation of making family-friendly fare, even though amongst the production crew the feeling was that ‘they’ve got to die’ was the only thing that made sense. So, Edwards planned a softer ending.
That changed once they sat down with Disney and Lucasfilm executives. “We thought we weren’t going to be allowed to but Kathy [Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm] and everyone at Disney were like ‘Yeah it makes sense/ I guess they have to because they’re not in A New Hope.’ And so from that point on we had the licence,” he said.
The ending was reworked with deaths provided for all the characters, and the original script never even got shot, according to Edwards. “I kept waiting for someone to go, ‘You know what? Could we just film an extra scene where we see Jyn and Cassian, they’re okay and they’re on another planet?’ And it never came. No one ever gave us that note, so we got to do it.”
While it reflects negatively on the Hollywood studio system – particularly Disney – that the creators assumed they couldn’t do away with their leads, it’s good to see a studio providing full freedom to a story and its director’s vision. And thankfully, the changes add to the film’s powerful and visceral impact, as the deaths hit home Rogue One’s message of war and its effects.