Some stories work better as films, while others are best explored through the medium of TV. Lucasfilm's acclaimed Rogue One was a brilliant film, but believe it or not, the idea was actually first developed as a TV show— which would have made for a very different experience.
John Knoll, visual effects supervisor at George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic, revealed the details of how he came up with the story behind what he thought would make a great episode of TV, and how it ended up being adapted into Rogue One nine years later.
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It All Began With 'Episode III'
In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Knoll said he first came up with the idea for a "Mission Impossible-style" story after hearing that Lucasfilm were planning on making a live-action Star Wars TV series:
"That was kind of intriguing, and I started thinking about, 'What would be a fun thing to do as a one-hour episode as a live action ‘Star Wars’ TV show?'"
It was 2003, and they were in the middle of filming the final installment in George Lucas' prequel trilogy. Knoll was excited to pitch the Rebel Alliance's epic heist to the studio, which he thought would be perfectly suited to a dedicated one-hour episode:
"There could be a lot of tension of potentially being discovered and overcoming security measures. That could be a lot of fun!"
So What Happened?
Despite his excitement, it soon became apparent that Knoll's idea wasn't going to work with what Lucasfilm had in mind. Apparently they'd already decided on which era the series would be based in, and it just didn't align with Knoll's concept. He kept his idea to himself, and decided to forget about it completely.
Almost a decade later, he got wind that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy was wanting to develop three standalone Star Wars origin films to accompany the new Episodes. After some encouragement from friends who agreed that his story would be perfect for the new movies, he agreed to run it past Kennedy.
He dedicated his time to developing the perfect pitch, and called a meeting with Kennedy and Lucasfilm's head of story, Kiri Hart:
"Finally, I had this 20-minute version that I could tell that had, I thought, pretty good story logic, and pretty good characters, and all was very exciting, just beautifully meets right up to 'Episode IV.'"
Following the meeting, Knoll waited an entire (and most likely unbearable) week to hear back. Finally, Hart got in contact with him: they loved his idea. And the rest, as they say, is history.
As for the live-action TV series, Star Wars: Underworld was announced way back in 2005, but was put on the back burner indefinitely after Lucas sold the company. The show may have been made redundant with the new origin films, and audiences clearly prefer big-budget film sequels to one-hour TV episodes.
Then again, most fans probably wouldn't be opposed to a whole TV show exploring the backstory of some much-loved characters. Did someone say Cassian Andor and K-2SO origins story?
Do you think Rogue One could work as a one-hour TV episode?
(Credit: Comic Book Resources)