Many of the truths we cling in life depend greatly on our point of view. If you hear an unsubstantiated report that a Star Wars movie is in trouble and it services your needs (gets ya clicks!) then you'll alter your point of view to accept it as the truth. If, however, you are a reasonably sensible person, you'll hear that news and think, "there's more going on here than we realise." Get my take on it below....
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not in trouble. Earlier this week Page Six ran a story claiming that Disney execs were panicked at the tone of Rogue One, the first Star Wars spin off movie. Here is what they said:
It's quite concerning that a post like this can get so much traction when it seems to be somewhat unfounded. For a start the "source" claims that:
Star Wars movies don't get tested outside of the studio. Public are unlikely to see this film until it hits the big screen. There are just too many spoilers in a movie this huge. The only people to have seen the early cuts of Rogue One will be the director, editors and Disney execs.
Now, pick ups, which are usually mistaken for reshoots, are very common among high profile projects like this. The reason they are required is that the early cuts of the film might present certain issues that were not anticipated at the early planning stages. I'll have an example in a moment, but rest assured, even a movie like The Force Awakens ended up a very different film to the one the creators set out to make. Just consider all those deleted scenes. Which is a positive thing. Remember when Harrison Ford had that accident on set? Well J.J. Abrams used that time to tweak the script a little and get the film closer to the version we fell in love with in December. That wasn't due to issues or concerns, it was an exercise in refinement. lets get to that example.
When George Lucas was making Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones, he had a script, and a set of storyboards to help build his movie. Yet it still went in for a round of pick ups. Why? Because the early cuts revealed some opportunities for improvements.
Look at the image below. Its shot from Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones, where Obi-Wan and Anakin were in the elevator on their way to Padme's apartment. This was a pick up. How can you tell? Well look at Ewan's ridiculous hair and beard? They are a wig and a glued on beard, because this footage was captured after the movie was rapped and Ewan had moved onto his next project. Now these pick ups would have been planned well in advance. Producers would have anticipated the need to go back before cameras and so made sure the talent and the crew were available to do so. This is how word of pick ups gets out, through the teams behind the talent hired for these movies. Yes Ewan was involved in additional photography for Star Wars, not because it was in crisis, but because the pick ups had been planned, and, as it turns out, required. Here's a likely reason for Ewan and Hayden being involved in pick ups.
This seen was most likely designed to introduce Obi-Wan and Anakin a little earlier, and frame their relationship for us. In this brief elevator ride we get to see that characters interacting in a familiar and playful way. Obi-Wan is teasing Anakin, and Anakin is teasing Obi-Wan. It shows that these two men have a long history together. We hear about some of the adventures together and we get to see a playful fondness between the two Jedi.
Why was this required?
Look at the image below. Its a shot from what was initially our first introduction to Obi-Wan and Anakin. Its still set in Padme's apartment, but very shortly after we are re-introduced to these two characters they are bickering.
Anakin becomes a petulant, whiny, spoiled child and is quickly admonished by Obi-Wan who seems to be impatient and irritated by his apprentice. This is not the way we need to reacquaint ourselves with our heroes. We need to know that these characters care about each other, and are deeply committed to each other, and that is what that short scene in the elevator achieves.
This issue would have been very difficult to identify during the scripting stage, and even during rehearsals. It's likely that not until George had a rough cut did he realise that something extra was required here and that is why pick ups are planned.
This scene did not mean Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones was in crisis, and it did not send ripples through fandom. It is simply a part of a films evolution, and I'm willing to bet thats true of the Rogue One: A Star Wars Stor pick ups. That they are planned as a contingency for this kind of thing, not because Disney execs are disappointed with the film they signed off on at the scripting stage.
Now, back to the Page Six article. At the bottom of the piece, behind of the requisite padding about who's in the film, and who directed it and why Gareth isn't directing the next Godzilla movie, is this quote:
The filmmakinging team and the studio always anticipated additional shooting! Always anticipated additional shooting! Doesn't sound like a crisis to me.
Look, I'm not going to criticise Page Six, for running and opinion based post, not when I'm writing the final few words in one of my own, but there's not a lot here to suggest a real issue. Filmmaking is an incredibly difficult thing, especially under the bright light of the internet. The fact is, its easier for a website to get clicks by throwing out a provocative title like "Disney Execs in a Panic" than by saying, "Star Wars movie will have planned additional photography, there's nothing to see here."
Have your say in the comments below. Do you think theres more to the pick ups for Rogue One: A Star Wars Stor than we are being told? Or is this a big fuss over nothing?
Last night MakingStarWars.net posted an article about how extensive the reshoots are actually going to be and given the site's track record for accuracy I'm willing to bet they are pretty close to the truth on this. I still don't think there's a lot to worry about here. In fact I'm taking some of what's being said as a reassuring sign.
MSW stated that as much as 40% of the movie will be reshot, with crews working 6 day weeks for the next couple of months, with as many as 32 sets being built to this end. What's really interesting here, if you read between the lines, is that execs at Disney, seem to want to invest more in the movie, and replace initially planned CGI work with physical models and sets. This is in step with the claims that the film was a little too close to the prequels in terms of aesthetic. MakingStarWars.net also state that the budget was reduced at the start of production, and this is an effort to address the effect that has had on the project.
There are talks of an uneven tone due to a drip feed of script elements, which is the most concerning thing I've read so far, but that is in keeping with previous claims that the film is aiming to end mere moments before Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope starts, so an adjustment to facilitate a consistent tone through that arc is, again, reassuring.
It's still true that pick ups were planned at the start of this production, even though there seems to be a larger work load now than original forecast, but this follows The Force Awakens' evolution as a project. So let's not panic about what's happening here. It is very promising that the powers that be are looking at the film as something worth investing in and improving, rather than them saying, "plug that hole and truly and claw our money back quickly." Star Wars is still in the right hands in my humble opinion.
I guess this is simply the price we pay for having Star Wars films made in a world where every single piece of information is accessible and studied so closely by so many people.
Thank you for reading,