I’ll begin this post by acknowledging the obvious: parsing unsourced statements regarding a studio’s justification for reshoots on a film about a sullen teenager stealing blueprints for a moon-sized space station is about the worst possible use of a 33-year-old father’s time.
“Hey, hon, can you change [REDACTED]? She spilled cranberry juice all over her white shirt and keeps saying ‘poop.’”
“JESUS FUCK, WOMAN, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHETHER UNNAMED LUCASFILM EXEC NO. 1 CONTRADICTED UNNAMED LUCASFILM EXEC NO. 2? IF I CAN BLOW THE LID OFF THIS THING THERE’S NO TELLING WHERE MY CAREER WILL GO!”
So yeah, this is an admittedly lame crusade. But for some reason I can’t shake the feeling that Disney and LucasFilm are peddling some weapons-grade bullshit about why Rogue One — an anthology film set in the Star Wars universe — needs five weeks of reshoots less than half a year before its December premiere.
For those of you blessedly not up to speed on the crisis that ripped the nerd community asunder, Page Six and The Hollywood Reporter ran stories early last week quoting unnamed sources who said Disney brass was displeased with director Gareth Edwards’ initial cut of the film and demanded changes. According to the sources — who again, did not go on the record because apparently discussing the results of test screenings with trade pubs is Hollywood’s equivalent to the Pentagon Papers — the execs took issue with the film’s tone, remarking that it resembled a war movie rather than the more family-friendly Force Awakens. “This is the closest thing to a prequel ever,” a source told THR. “This takes place just before ‘A New Hope’ and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins. You have to match the tone!”
Yeah, we need to work through this quote before moving on.
1. Rogue One exists in a universe with the word “war” in the motherfucking title
2. This is not the closest thing to a prequel considering THE GODDAMN FRANCHISE CREATOR MADE AN ENTIRE PREQUEL TRILOGY NOT 15 YEARS AGO! Perhaps you heard about that, Unnamed Source With A Dangerously Low Midichlorian Count. Characters include a brain-damaged platypus and a future meth addict cosplayer. Check em out. Or slam your head in an oven door. There’s no difference.
3. The original trilogy plots include torture, the eradication of a principle character’s home planet, dismemberment, incest, assisted suicide, slavery, and carebear murder. By that measure, Rogue One could be Saw in space and still be more palatable to 9-year-old Brycen than the OG trilogy.
Glad we dealt with this nonsense together as a family. Anyway, the news turned typically rational, level-headed Star Wars fans into [insert some angry monster creature from the Star Wars universe. Grimbledongs, or whatever]. Internet thought leaders accused Disney suits of homogenizing the property in order to sell more toys and amusement park tickets. Our singular outrage sparked a passionate grassroots movement so vocal, so incessant, so righteous that Disney had no choice but to directly address the concerns. Which they did on Friday to some startup blog who pays their staff in prestige points.
In a nutshell, a bunch of different unnamed high-level Lucasfilm sources told Entertainment Weekly that everything is peachy in Rogue One land (official studio sources wouldn’t comment on the record because, “They don’t respond to rumors,” which is where my eyes began rolling involuntarily). Those reshoots? Standard practice! There haven’t even been any test screenings for execs to fret about. The sources also shot down the admittedly ridiculous rumor that Disney wants to reshoot 40 percent of the movie under Christopher McQaurrie supervision. McQuarrie himself activated the tweet machine to dismiss this nonsense in glorious fashion.
Attn: bloggers. I'm reading some horseshit rumors tonight. You know where to find me. Do your jobs.— ChristopherMcQuarrie (@chrismcquarrie) June 3, 2016
According to one unnamed source, who we’ll call Nickelback Lover for simplicity’s sake, the changes will only improve character development and story clarity within previously shot scenes.
“The changes involve more intimate moments - not redoing entire battle sequences or plot lines. “It’s a lot of talking in cockpits,” as the insider described the new footage.
Oh. OK then. Whew. Guess we were all worked up for nothing. STAND DOWN, LEGION! Kristy was right and I was wrong. Pretty much par for the course. Let’s scroll down to the comment section to laugh at some idiots and…
But EW’s reporting has uncovered a new collaborator on Rogue One: Tony Gilroy, the writer-director of Michael Clayton. He was brought aboard the project in the spring to offer notes on the first cut and write some additional material to enhance the story.
You hired Tony Gilroy to write cockpit dialogue? An abundance of riches isn’t a negative. If you can get the guy behind Michael Clayton, get the guy behind Michael Clayton. That said, it’s hard to believe they’d bring in a screenwriter of his caliber simply to punch up inconsequential pilot banter. But hey, calling in boss-level script doctors isn’t uncharted territory. Still, five weeks to add some witticisms?
The length of the reshoots adds up because it involves separate contributions from many different actors. […] A source familiar with the reshoots said one of the challenges has been reuniting the cast, many of whom are involved in other movies after the pre-planned reshoots were shifted from the spring to summer.
The vibe on the filmmaking team is that they’re just happy the corporate bosses let them alter the schedule and make the changes.
Damn, that’s a lot of cockpit dialogue. Is Kevin Hart in the Rebel Alliance now? If reshoots were always in the cards, why did the studio move them from spring to the summer knowing the actors had other commitments? Another source (might be Nickelback Fan, though, who knows) told EW the schedule shifted to give Edwards time to decide what to change. If that’s true, why bring in Gilroy? Did Disney/Lucasfilm not have faith in the original team?
These minor head-scratchers aside, the story put forth by the faceless men is quite plausible so far: It took Edwards and his crew a little longer than planned to decide on edits, and the studio generously granted them the time they need to punch up dialogue and tighten the story. Perfectly reasonable.
Saturday, though, THR reported that renowned stunt coordinator Simon Crane was called in to work with Edwards on the reshoots. HOLY FUCK THEY’RE GONNA BRAWL IN COCKPITS WHILE SLINGING BOMB-ASS DIALOGUE? THIS MOVIE GONNA SELL ALLLLLLL THE TOYS! Lame jokes notwithstanding, you don’t hire the guy who designed the stunts for Saving Private Ryan, Edge of Tomorrow, Titanic, and Braveheart if there aren’t new stunts to be coordinated.
Ok, so maybe they’re adding a few more action scenes as well. Bonding via combat, much like shoveling the walk or getting your ass kicked by the town bully, can build character. At least those rumors about execs demanding tonal changes after seeing the first cut are totally unfounded.
Rumors that Disney executives have forced the changes to make the movie more family friendly are also false. According to EW’s sources, there have been no test screenings, and it’s unlikely there ever will be on a Star Wars film. The only two individuals outside of Lucasfilm who have seen Rogue One at this point are Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger and studio chief Alan Horn.
Damn, that’s some expertly worded, “definition of is, is” nonsense. It’s difficult to catch on the first pass, but the latter two sentences in the above paragraph do not in any way invalidate the opening line. So what if there haven’t been test screenings? Remember, the initial rumor had studio execs concerned about tone. Iger, Horn, and individuals inside Lucasfilm (which by definition could include franchise steward Kathleen Kennedy) define the term “studio execs.” No studio exec has ever studio exec-ed harder than Iger and Horn.
So, to recap the info from the EW article: Rogue One is undergoing a negligible, previously scheduled reshoot to add minor character work that nonetheless requires all the principal actors, a new writer, a new stunt coordinator, and more than a month of expensive filming. The rumors about studio execs demanding changes are nonsense because only studio execs have seen the film.
Here’s what probably happened: Disney and Lucasfilm saw an initial cut and registered some concerns. Those concerns either wholly or partially revolved around the film’s feel — intensity, lack of humor, brutality (y’all understand most of the Rebels aren’t gonna make it, right?), or a combination of all three. It’s doubtful THR fabricated the quote about matching the tone, and it’s not a coincidence multiple Lucasfilm sources were available to speak with a friendly industry pub days after the internet started panicking. With ESPN dragging down Disney stock and Star Wars interest at generational highs thanks to The Force Awakens, it’s reasonable to think the execs want to hew closely to the formula that helped J.J. Abrams’ sequel earn over $2 billion worldwide. Reshooting half the film was never realistic. Many of the forthcoming changes may very well result in a better film. But pretending this all unfolded as planned is a Roger Goddellian insult to our intelligence.
Just level with the fans. They can take it. Actually, they can’t. At all. Do it anyway. I gotta go change a diaper.