- "A rebellion built on hope."
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, simply known as Rogue One, is a 2016 film directed by Gareth Edwards and produced by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, amongst many others. The screenplay, written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, is based on a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta. The film's score is composed by Michael Giacchino, marking the first live-action film in the official Star Wars canon to not be scored by John Williams. It is the first film in the Star Wars Anthology Series.
Rogue One stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, and Alan Tudyk. Genevieve O'Reilly reprises her role as Mon Mothma, the leader of the Rebel Alliance; O'Reilly portrayed the character for 2005's Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, but her scenes were cut. The film also features the return of Darth Vader.
The film, which began production in August 2015, is set between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. It is set closer to the latter film and focuses on the formation of the Rebel Alliance and their efforts to steal the plans to the Death Star, an event that was referenced in the opening crawl of A New Hope. Jyn Erso, played by Jones, and a group of other characters band together to steal the plans from the Galactic Empire. Edwards has described the film as a grounded, war-based movie, one in which normal people have to come together to fight the Empire as opposed to relying on the Jedi or the Force.
Approximately six years after the formation of the Galactic Empire, research scientist Galen Erso is forcibly recruited by Imperial Director Orson Krennic to complete the design of the Death Star, a space station capable of destroying entire planets. Galen's wife, Lyra Erso, is killed when she shoots and injures Krennic to stop him from taking her husband. Their daughter, Jyn Erso, goes into hiding.
Thirteen years later, Bodhi Rook, a defecting Imperial pilot, smuggles a holographic message from Galen for the Rebel Alliance. An adult Jyn is freed from Imperial captivity and brought to rebel leaders by Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor. They convince her to rescue Galen so that they can learn about the Death Star. However, Cassian is covertly ordered to kill Galen, rather than extract him to prevent the weapon from being built.
Jyn, along with Rebel officer Cassian Andor and his reprogrammed imperial droid K-2SO, arrive on the moon Jedha where there is an armed uprising against the Empire. With the aid of blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe and mercenary Baze Malbus, she reunites with her old revolutionary mentor Saw Gerrera, who has captured Rook. He shows her the hologram, in which her father expresses his love for her and discloses his coerced help on the project. The hologram also reveals that her father covertly compromised the Death Star's design by including a subtle vulnerability in its reactor that can be used to destroy it. He tells her that the structural plans are at an Imperial high-security data bank on the planet Scarif. Meanwhile, Imperial Governor Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin meets with Krennic on the Death Star and expresses skepticism about the project and its management. As a demonstration, Krennic uses the weapon to destroy Jedha's capital and crush the insurgency led by Gerrera, forcing Jyn and her group to flee with Rook, while Gerrera elects to remain and die with the city. Tarkin congratulates Krennic, but then uses Rook's defection and security leak under Krennic's command as a pretext to take over control of the project.
Jyn tracks her father to an Imperial research facility on the planet Eadu, where Cassian chooses not to kill Galen. When Krennic arrives and threatens to have Galen's main team killed for causing the security leak, Galen confesses he is responsible. Krennic executes the team nevertheless, and Jyn makes her presence known just as a rebel bombing raid begins, leaving Galen fatally wounded. Jyn allows her father to die in her arms before she and her group escape in a stolen Imperial cargo shuttle. Jyn proposes a plan to steal the Death Star schematics from Scarif, but with her father and Gerrera dead and the hologram destroyed, the Rebel leadership have no way of verifying her story and cannot agree on a plan. Frustrated at their inaction, Jyn, Cassian, K-2SO, and a number of rebels take the shuttle to raid the data bank themselves. Before they take off however, they are confronted by rebel command, who asks them to identify themselves. Rook answers with "Rogue One" before taking off without permission.
Meanwhile, Krennic meets with Darth Vader, seeking his support and an audience with the Emperor, but Vader dismisses his appeal for recognition. As the three search the data bank for the design plans, the rest of their team set off explosives and commence firing in the nearby landing area in order to distract the resident stormtroopers. Meanwhile, the Rebel fleet learns about the battle from intercepted imperial transmissions and deploy in support. Imwe is killed after activating the master switch to allow communication with the Rebel fleet from Rook's shuttle. After informing the rebel fleet that it must take down the planetary shield to allow transmission of the plans, Rook and the ship are destroyed by a grenade. Malbus also dies in battle shortly after. Meanwhile, K-2SO sacrifices himself to allow Jyn and Cassian to retrieve the data, but they are ambushed by Krennic, who shoots Cassian and pursues and corners Jyn on the roof.
Before he can kill her, Cassian, who has survived, shoots and badly wounds Krennic. Jyn then transmits the schematics to the Rebel command ship. Tarkin arrives on the Death Star and decides to use the superlaser to destroy the compromised base, killing Jyn, Cassian, and Krennic. The rebel fleet attempts to jump into hyperspace, but are intercepted by Vader's flagship. He boards the command ship and massacres the rebel troops in pursuit of the plans, only to watch as a blockade runner escapes with them. Aboard the fleeing ship, Princess Leia Organa declares that they will provide the Rebellion hope for its future.
- "'A New Hope' is the story of a boy who grows up in a tranquil home and dreams of joining a war. What if we have the story of a girl who grows up in a war and dreams of returning to the tranquillity of home?"
- ―Gareth Edwards
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves. In theaters December 2016.
- "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet."
- ―The opening crawl of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
Rogue One is set between the films Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, during the Age of the Empire. The film revolves around a group of resistance fighters who unite to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Galactic Empire's deep space mobile battle station that is capable of destroying entire planets. The theft of the plans was first referenced in the opening crawl of A New Hope, which described the event as the Rebel Alliance's "first victory against the evil Galactic Empire." The crawl further states that, "During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans" to the Death Star. The opening scenes of A New Hope deal with that battle's aftermath, with Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan fleeing from the Empire with the plans in order to deliver them to the Rebel Alliance. The Death Star is ultimately destroyed in A New Hope after the princess and her companions—Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO—deliver the plans to the Rebellion and a weakness in the station is discovered.
The title Rogue One refers to a callsign, but is also intended as a pun, as the film is the first canon live-action film that is not part of the saga and is therefore the "rogue" one. Unlike the previous live-action films, Rogue One does not revolve around the Jedi. Rather, the film is about a group of people who do not have the ability to use the Force and have to find a way to bring hope to a galaxy ruled by the Empire. Also unlike the original trilogy, which provided a black and white view of good and evil, Edwards stated at Celebration Anaheim that Rogue One "is gray" and that the film could be described as "Real...This is a real place that we're really in..." Finally, unlike all other Star Wars shows and movies (including Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels) it does not feature the traditional Star Wars title crawl, further asserting itself as the "rogue one".
Regardless of how well the film performs, there are no plans for a sequel.
- "I started thinking about which story would I like to see told? I informally pitched it around...One of the people I pitched it to was Pablo, and he was pretty enthusiastic about it as well...I made an appointment with Kathy and Kiri, pitched the 20-minute version of this, and got a pretty good response."
- ―John Knoll
John Knoll, a visual effects supervisor and the chief creative officer at ILM, began developing the idea for Rogue One in the mid-2000s, after learning that George Lucas was developing a Star Wars live-action TV series. However, Knoll put aside the idea once he realized that it would not fit within the show's concept. The series was eventually put on indefinite hold due to budget constraints, and Lucas decided to retire from filmmaking, hiring Kathleen Kennedy as the new head of Lucasfilm. According to Kennedy, Lucas was "really interested in exploring all the stories that existed inside the universe." (Lucas had long considered making films outside of the saga, dating back to development of the original Star Wars film.) Lucasfilm settled on calling these non-episodic adventures the Star Wars Anthology Series. At the urging of his colleagues, Knoll pitched his idea to various people within Lucasfilm, including Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo, who was enthusiastic about the idea. This led to a meeting with Kennedy and Kiri Hart, a member of the Story Group and Lucasfilm's vice president of development. Kennedy, who said she was president "for about 20 minutes" when she had the discussion with Knoll, thought it was a great idea and that "there was no way" she could say no to the idea. Like Kennedy, Hart was "immediately excited about" the film. It was then chosen as the first stand-alone film to be produced, due to the involvement of plot elements that general audiences would be familiar with.
Gareth Edwards, who had directed Monsters and was directing Godzilla at the time, was hired to direct the film, early in the creative process. A previsualization reel based on the story was created using footage from many other films, such as WarGames and Aliens. Gary Whitta, who had written The Book of Eli and After Earth, was hired to write the film's screenplay. The team decided to create a film that felt real, as if it was taking place in a real location; and one that was set within the gray areas of Star Wars, as opposed to the clear morality of the original Star Wars trilogy. The look of the film was inspired by the work of artist Frederic Remington, as well as footage of real-life wars. Certain Star Wars traditions were also eschewed, such as an opening crawl (though one was included in Whitta's original script) or "wipe" scene transitions. The main characters did not die in the original script, due to the filmmakers' assumption that Disney would want to use the characters again. This was changed after everyone had reviewed the script. On March 12, 2015, it was announced that Chris Weitz would take over screenwriting duties from Whitta. It was further announced that the film would be titled Rogue One—a name coined by Whitta during the writing process—and that Felicity Jones, who had been nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in The Theory of Everything, had been cast in the film. Edwards used ILM's new developments in virtual reality to aid in pre-visualizing the film. The film began principal photography in London in August 2015. This was announced during the D23 Expo that same month. Additionally, a StarWars.com blog post revealed the full cast for the film: alongside Felicity Jones would be starring: Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, and Riz Ahmed. At least two of the cast underwent special training for their roles: Jones in a style of martial arts and Luna in military training. Members of the British Armed Forces were also hired as extras.
Simon Crane and Tony Gilroy were brought on to assist with reshoots, for which the latter was paid over $5 million. Initial plans for reshoots had already been made upon the film's conception. According to Gareth Edwards, "it was always part of the plan to do reshoots. We always knew we were coming back somewhere to do stuff. We just didn't know what it would be until we started sculpting the film in the edit." In June 2016, it was announced that the film was to undergo reshoots. Almost immediately, numerous rumors surfaced online, with claims that over 40% of the film was to be re-shot, Scott Z. Burns and Christopher McQuarrie had written new drafts of the script (with the latter co-directing), and Disney executives had ordered the reshoots in an effort to "lighten" the film's tone. Numerous news articles have since disproven all such rumors. According to the EW, there were no test screenings on Rogue One, nor are any likely to occur on a Star Wars movie. The dark and gritty tone had been preserved, and the reshoots had dealt more with character development rather than the plotline. According to Kathleen Kennedy, "There's nothing about the story that's changing, with a few things that we're picking up in additional photography. I think that's the most important thing, to reassure fans that it's the movie we intended to make." Edwards attributed the lengthy reshoots to the spontaneous, cinéma vérité nature of the production.
The film's musical score was originally composed by Alexandre Desplat, although Michael Giacchino took over in post-production. ILM utilized unused footage from A New Hope to insert Rebel pilots from that film into Rogue One. Edwards had the idea after stumbling across a box of negatives while touring the Lucasfilm Archives.
A brief teaser trailer was shown for Celebration Anaheim attendees, depicting the Death Star far off in the distance on a jungle world. Lucasfilm was not able to promote the film anywhere outside of Celebration Anaheim, however, during the summer of 2015, due to the similarities between the titles of Rogue One and the then-upcoming film Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The title of Rogue Nation was registered with the Motion Picture Association of America prior to Rogue One, leading to the embargo on Rogue One promotion. On April 7, 2016, a teaser trailer debuted during ABC's Good Morning America. A ten-second preview of the teaser had been released online the day before. On July 15, there was a Rogue One panel at Celebration Europe featuring Gareth Edwards and Kathleen Kennedy; During the panel, a featurette and a new trailer were released; The featurette aired that night during the ABC broadcast of Secrets of the Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey. A trailer aired during the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Beginning on September 20, TNT aired the first six Star Wars films. This was part of a deal in which Turner networks received exclusive rights to air eleven Star Wars films, including Rogue One in 2019. On October 12, it was revealed that a new trailer would be released the following day on October 13. ABC aired an additional preview of the film on November 24, as part of their "Magical Holiday Celebration." On December 2, Twitter hosted a livestream Q&A with Edwards and crew members; On the same day, members of the press were invited to Skywalker Ranch to view 28 minutes of footage from the film. Cast and crew made various media appearances, most prominently on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, Conan, Sirius XM and MTV News. The film had its Hollywood premiere on December 10.
Some of the cast and crew participated in UNICEF's Force for Change and Kid Power programs, creating Target-exclusive T-shirts, of which five dollars from each would contribute to the cause. Edwards also used the opportunity of making the film to promote the ASSERT charity. As with The Force Awakens, a terminally ill cancer patient—Neil Hanvey—was allowed to see the film early. Hanvey passed away two days after seeing the film.
The Rogue One merchandise line officially launched on September 30, 2016. A prequel comic miniseries of the film was set to be released in October and published by Marvel Comics, containing three issues and a one-shot, until it was revealed that the miniseries has been cancelled on May 17. Two of the movie's other related products were also cancelled before they were released: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Rebel Alliance Field Manual, which was cancelled when the publisher Media Lab Books lost the license, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: The Official Visual Story Guide. On November 15, Del Rey published a prequel novel to the film, entitled Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel. Dorling Kindersley released an art book and ultimate visual guide for the film on December 16, the same day as the release of the film itself. A short story titled "The Voice of the Empire" tying into the film was featured in Star Wars Insider 170. A Rogue One-themed expansion was released for the video game Star Wars Battlefront.
In August 2016, Lucasfilm released a series of online images advertising Hasbro's Rogue One toy line, which debuted on September 30. The toys were also featured in Go Rogue, an officially-sponsored, fan-created online video series that will continue throughout September. The Black Series figure of Jyn Erso was released on October 15, 2016. By September 4, 2016, the figure had already skyrocketed to become the #1 Best Seller in Amazon's Action & Toy Figures category, based on hourly-updated figures. Verizon sponsored Rogue One: Recon, a 3D experience created by ILM Experience Lab. Nissan offered a Rogue One-themed Limited Edition of its 2017 Nissan Rogue. In October 2016, special Rogue One-inspired commercials aired for Duracell, Nissan and Gilette products.
In a December 2015 poll by Fandango, Rogue One was voted the most anticipated film of 2016. Early estimates predict a significant box office intake, though considerably less than The Force Awakens. Tickets went on sale on the midnight of November 28, followed by reports that Fandango had crashed due to high demand. The film had the second biggest day one pre-sales, following The Force Awakens.
During the lead up to release, which coincided with the aftermath of a Republican victory in the U.S. presidential election, writers Weitz and Witta were criticized for making political comparisons with the film, culminating in calls for a boycott from the alt-right.
As of the afternoon of Thursday, December 15, 2016, the film was listed as "Certified Fresh" at the movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Out of 208 reviews, 175 reviewers gave the film a score considered "Fresh," for an overall freshness level of 84% and an average rating of 7.5/10. The site's consensus stated that "Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground -- and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise." While reception was on the whole greatly positive, acclaim for the film was not universal. Alyssa Rosenberg, a critic for the Washington Post, called the film "disappointing" and stated that Star Wars would need to get past the dynamic of the Rebellion vs. the Empire if it was going to work. Some reviewers also objected to the use of digitized versions of the characters of Wilhuff Tarkin and Leia Organa, such as Noah Berlatsky of Quartz questioning why "vast resources of film studios and creative personnel [are] being used to create a zombie version of something everyone has already seen?"
Rogue One became available on Digital HD on March 24, 2017, and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 4, 2017. The retail version contains bonuses exclusive to the store outlet where it was purchased. Target's 5-disc set includes collectible packaging with interchangeable character covers and exclusive bonus content (Blu-ray 3D + two Blu-ray + DVD + DVD exclusive content – 2 additional bonus features + Digital HD + collectible packaging), Best Buy has a 4-disc set with exclusive SteelBook packaging (Blu-ray 3D + two Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD + SteelBook packaging), and Wal-Mart sells a 3-disc set with exclusive K-2SO packaging and two Galactic Connexions trading discs (two Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD + K-2SO packaging + two Galactic Connexions trading discs). In addition to the film itself, the various home-media releases include various special content, including John Knoll's inspiration for the concept of the film, coverage of the cast regarding their respective characters, coverage of easter eggs hidden throughout the film, and behind-the-scenes looks at how Tarkin and Leia were given digital touchups.
References to other Star Wars films
- The opening scene is in space, and the camera features an Imperial starship, mirroring the openings of the original trilogy, all of which featured Imperial Star Destroyers.
- K-2SO almost says the traditional "I have a bad feeling about this" as he, Cassian Andor, and Jyn Erso infiltrate the base on Scarif.
- This is the first live-action theatrical Star Wars film not to start with the traditional opening crawl.
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Notes and references
- Osborne Says Another Star Wars Movie to be Filmed in Britain - Bloomberg
- Hitfix: Cinematographer Greig Fraser talks 'Foxcatcher,' 'The Gambler' and NOT 'Star Wars'
- Rogue One ILM Chain Reaction
- Truitt, Brian (November 14, 2016). Exclusive: Check out the new 'Rogue One' IMAX poster. USA Today. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved on November 14, 2016.
- Capps, Robert (November 29, 2016). Meet John Knoll, the Creative Genius Who Brought Rogue One to Life. Wired. Retrieved on December 1, 2016.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Wikipedia