As the “Star Wars” universe readies to expand out to include this year’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” — the first of a series of newly minted anthology films — rumors have continued to persist that the Gareth Edwards feature has been plagued by production problems. Back in June, word hit the wire that the film was undergoing a series of reshoots to remove a “dark tone,” with help from filmmakers like Christopher McQuarrie and Tony Gilroy. At the time, it was estimated that as much as 40% of the film would need to be reshot in order to accomplish the rumored aims.
Those rumors, however, were swiftly shot down, most notably in a long-form piece from Entertainment Weekly that emphasized that the reshoots had always been planned and were not in any way meant to “save the film.” McQuarrie, who did contribute to earlier drafts of the film’s screenplay, even took to the internet to refute buzz that he was taking over any part of the shoot (he told /Film, “If there are any reshoots on ‘Rogue One,’ I’m not supervising them. For any outlet to say so is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible”).
And yet even the EW piece, which pushed a party line that the film was still very much in Edwards’ control, did confirm one thing: Tony Gilroy would be working on the film, adding in new dialogue and serving as Edwards’ second unit director. As EW noted, it wasn’t the first time Gilroy had served in that capacity for Edwards, “having done similar uncredited work on the filmmaker’s previous movie, 2014’s ‘Godzilla,’ to strengthen the story before release.” While that story aimed to clear up bad buzz and make it clear that the film was still in Edwards’ control, rumors of Gilroy’s involvement have only gotten louder.
The Hollywood Reporter now reports that Gilroy “has been empowered to take the lead on postproduction for the Dec. 16 release, even as director Gareth Edwards remains involved in the project.”
The trade also notes that Gilroy “became the driving force behind ‘Rogue One’s extensive, recently wrapped reshoots, which ran around five weeks. Now he is said to be ‘supervising’ the edit with input from Edwards.” THR also shares that “the Gilroy-backed reshoots tackled several issues, according to sources, the ending of the film among them.”
Those reshoots ended just before last month’s Star Wars Celebration in Europe, which featured a “Rogue One” panel that spent copious time talking about Edwards’ strength as a filmmaker and his vision in crafting the film. Rumors of a hugely reshot film, of a trouble with tone and certainly with Gilroy’s involvement, were not mentioned. Gilroy was, of course, not present (of the film’s credited screenwriters, only executive producer John Knoll, who is also the COO at ILM, was present at the fan-driven event).
Instead of talking about rumors and reshoots, the panel — which included Edwards, nearly all of his cast and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy — spent time talking about how the film fits into the “Star Wars” mythos and showing off new footage.
Production was, however, mentioned early on, when Kennedy discussed why Edwards was chosen for the film. For the Lucasfilm team, the appeal lay in Edwards’ collaboration with cinematographer Grieg Fraser. Kennedy and Edwards promised that the pair would deliver a film that had “docu-style with a guerrilla filmmaking feel” to it. It was one of the few times that actual production was dug into during the panel, which leaned on a sizzle reel and a new trailer, along with its large cast, to sell the film the fans in attendance and watching online.
Edwards later spoke to a small group of press, reiterating some of his points from the panel and speaking more broadly about building out the film’s universe. Reshoots were, again, not mentioned.
With “Rogue One” still three months away from release, rumors of possible production trouble and a post-production process that may be putting control in the hands of another director don’t seem to be going away. Although Disney’s so-far selling of the film has hinged on the skill and spirit of its young director, if he wasn’t alone behind the camera (and now isn’t alone in the editing room), how long can that story stay buried?
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will be released in theaters December 16.