From the first reports of reshoots, we've known that Rogue One had a very high studio involvement in the production — and that many things about the movie were changed at the last minute. When the film was released, we were finally able to piece together some of the alterations. Some of it was fairly obvious — hardly any scenes from the first trailer made it to the final cut — and some not so much. The tone was subtly made darker, much of Jyn's personality was tweaked, and many scenes were cut to improve the flow.
Later, the movie's editors shed some light on the impressive six months they spent on reshoots and changes. Director Gareth Edwards also revealed that #RogueOne's explosive ending was different in the first draft of the script — in which several characters, including Jyn and Cassian, survived. This ending was not shot (according to Edwards), but was changed when Lucasfilm gave the director the go-ahead to kill all the main characters.
Basically, Rogue One had a very rocky road to the silver screen, and it's very impressive that the movie turned out as good as it did. It seems pretty unlikely that we'll ever really know what the other versions of the movie were like, but here's hoping the DVD and Blu-Ray releases give us some juicy bonus material.
In the meantime, some of the concept artists who worked on Rogue One (along with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, and currently Han Solo) dropped into one of London's comic book stores to drop yet more clues about the Rogue One changes. Here's the main points, brought to us courtesy of fan blog StarWarsHyperdrive:
Saw Gerrera's Ice Planet Base
Originally, the designs the artists came up with for Saw's base were distinctly more Hoth than Tattooine reminiscent — Saw could have lived on a frozen planet stalked by Snowtroopers, which would have been shot in Iceland along with Jyn's childhood home.
CRAB-ATs Scurry Across Scarif
Scarif's distinctive AT-ACTs were originally going to be CRAB-ATs — a similar design, but shaped like a crab, these all-terrain vehicles have never been used in the #StarWars extended media before. According to the concept artists, they were wary of introducing too many new(ish) designs to Rogue One, because a crucial aspect of this anthology movie was recognizability, allowing the story to be integrated with the Star Wars original trilogy.
A Lot More Scenes Were Shot
Just as Edwards confirmed, the concept artists reiterated that there was a huge amount of material shot that didn't actually make it to the film. Edwards wanted to have a lot of footage to play with, so there are likely lots of different versions of the Scarif battle floating around Lucasfilm's archives somewhere!
Last Minute Alterations To Scarif
Scarif's gorgeous (yet strangely impractical) Citadel was a nice design feature in Rogue One. The tower housed all of the Imperial hard-copy archives, and was visually stunning. Interestingly, after working for two months on a design for the Citadel, the concept artists scrapped it at the last minute and redesigned it in just two hours. They didn't say why this was changed so abruptly.
These were the many plot points that the concept artists revealed, but they also talked about some more fun tidbits:
- There is a huge archive of army surplus uniforms and props that the costume designers use for that wartime aesthetic.
- The huge Scarif shield-gate — the Ring of Kafrene — was inspired by Bladerunner concept art.
- Every single background character had an untold backstory and personal motivation.
- They still incorporate some of Ralph McQuarrie's matte painting techniques when covering the green screen before the footage is sent to ILM.
- Scale models are still a huge part of the design process — all sketches have model mock-ups before everything is rendered in CG.
All of this, and more, will be available in the soon-to-be-released Rogue One concept art book!