Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards has revealed why the original ending for the Star Wars spin-off film didn’t work.
The original ending of Rogue One led to extensive reshoots for the film. The editors previously confirmed the reshoots themselves were in an effort to rework the original third act but they remained tight-lipped on what exactly was changed, however, it was clear from the trailers that first cut featured the Rogue One crew charging towards AT-ACT’s on the beaches of Scarif after they had stolen the plans for the Death Star.
In a recent interview with Slashfilm, Edwards revealed the third act ultimately had to be reworked because the beach sequence glimpsed in the trailers made the act feel too long:
“I think the main thing that changed at the end…what used to happen, and you can get a sense of this in the early trailers, the transmission tower for the plans was separate from the main base on Scarif. To transmit the plans, they had to escape and run along the beach and go up the tower. In cutting the film, it just felt too long. We had to find ways to compress the third act, which was quite long as it was. And one real, fast, brutal solution was to put the tower in the base, so they don’t have to run across the beach and do all of that stuff to get there. That became a decision that eliminated the shots you see in the trailer of the back of Cassian and Jyn and the AT-ATs. That was some of the reinvention that happened. It was all to do with compression.”
The final five minutes of Rogue One left audiences buzzing as it featured one of the greatest Darth Vader scenes ever. The Rebels on board The Profundity used the Tantive IV to escape from the Battle of Scarif with the Death Star plans before it was too late but before they could they were found themselves trapped in the airlock between The Profundity and the Tantive IV. Darth Vader ignited his lightsaber and emerged from the darkness before he slaughtered them. Luckily, a brave Rebel passed the plans through the airlock door to a Rebel aboard the Tantive IV, allowing them to escape from the battle with the plans.
The scene itself informs not just the beginning of A New Hope but also The Empire Strikes Back as we now have a solid frame of reference for the absolute fear felt by the Rebels as Vader invaded both the Tantive IV and Echo Base.
Edwards also revealed to Fandango that the scene of Vader ruthlessly murdering the Rebel soldiers was a last minute addition pitched by editor Jabez Olssen months before the release of Rogue One:
“He arrives and obliterates the Calamari ship, and then the blockade runner gets out just in time and he pursues the blockade runner. And then Jabez [Olssen] was like, ‘I think we need to get Darth on that ship,’ and I thought, yeah, that’s a brilliant idea and would love to do it, but there’s no way they’re going to let us do it. It’s a big number and we had, what, like 3 or 4 months before release. Kathy [Kennedy] came in and Jabez thought, f*ck it, and pitched her this idea, and she loved it. Suddenly within a week or two we were at Pinewood shooting that scene.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be available on Digital HD March 24 followed by the DVD & Blu-Ray release on April 4.