#RogueOne: A Star Wars Story is already less than a month away, but it only feels like a few months ago since #TheForceAwakens was met with universal adoration. Fans have been preparing fervently for the spin-off's release on December 16th, picking up clues and tidbits from Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel as well impatiently waiting to see the outcome of Jyn Erso's fight against the Empire. Though it may not be released to the uproarious fanfare of Episode VII or match the wide appeal, the film still looks like a great and unique addition to the Star Wars universe. Not even controversial re-shoots will prevent us fans from selling out theaters 7:00pm Thursday night.
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As we inch our way towards pre-ticket sales, #Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy has given us news to chew on until then. In a recent discussion with Variety, the legendary producer spoke a whole lot on the future of the Star Wars cinematic landscape. Not much controversy has met the story group since they bought Lucasfilm a few years ago, but now something has. Kennedy has confirmed that Rogue One will not have the usual opening crawl, something that fans of the series have been so accustomed to. Unfortunately, director Gareth Edwards and the committee have decided to let it go. In all fairness, it may already be to late to reverse that decision.
"We felt [the opening crawls were] so indicative of what those saga films are. Initially, we probably will begin the film in a way that is traditional, with just the title."
So why is it such a bad idea?
It's Breaking Tradition
When you sat down to watch The Force Awakens for the first time, at what point did you realize that it wasn't a dream? Was it the Lucasfilm logo or the opening crawl? Nothing else quite matches that feeling that fans around the world had when the title filled the screen and the brass blasted throughout the theater. Because of this, you know exactly what you got yourself into — an adventure like no other, in a galaxy far far away. All eight theatrical releases (including the animated film) were introduced this way, and its absence from Rogue One will definitely puzzle and distract audiences far more than it should. This is a signature aspect of Star Wars that is only associated with the iconic property, and without it the film would not feel the same. If they throw away the John Williams's fanfare for the anthology films, it will surely be missed.
Without It, Mainstream Audiences May End Up Very Confused
One aspect of the film that definitely takes time to explain to casual moviegoers is when the film takes place. These may be people who have not even seen the original trilogy, only going to watch the film for its prominence as a big name property, with little knowledge of the universe as a whole. I still run into people who think that "that new Star Wars movie" is a sequel to The Force Awakens, complaining about what they think is a fourth Death Star. In short, a large portion of moviegoers still don't see where the film lies in the timeline, which is why an opening crawl is absolutely necessary. Where's Rey? Where's Finn?
The Filmmakers Need To Establish The Setting And Lore The Film Is Based
I feel bad for the Star Wars first-timers who walk into this film with only the common Star Wars knowledge to keep them in line, but even that is not enough. Prior to the original trilogy, there were so many factions and prominent leaders that it is hard to keep track of motivations, intentions, or even settings. Opening crawls also gave lots of background as a foundation of the film — locations, an idea of what came before, and identification of the most important characters. It would be a mistake not to inform the more laid-back film fans who are generally not absolutely crazy about the franchise. It would be a great help, timeline-wise and with historical information, so that it could be more accessible for newcomers to understand.
How Should They Start The Film Instead?
As for what they will be doing in place of the opening crawl, the only option they have thought to consider is just using a traditional title card, with the film's name plastered on screen. Now that we are not involved with Skywalkers, there is more creative freedom to explore. At Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm opened their panel with a format that genuinely should be the opening of Rogue One (or at least a variation of it). The concept of using the crawl for #ANewHope to establish the timeline would be a genius and creative idea. Hopefully they can experiment around more with the anthology films by shaking the winning formula, and though it might be somewhat ballsy, using this variation would inject enough tradition to make a diehard fan think: "This is Star Wars."
Should Rogue One have an opening crawl?