As many sharp-eyed fans noticed, the final cut of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" didn't include some of the more spectacular scenes from the movie's teaser trailer, such as the protagonists' race across a beach through a flock of massive AT-ATs. According to director Gareth Edwards, the film's finale underwent a massive revision towards the end of production in order to compress the final conflict. For the director, though, that's a good thing, as the original cut was simply too long.
During this year's SXSW festival, Edwards delivered a keynote speech and answered some questions about "Rogue One." In an interview with SlashFilm, Edwards got into the nitty-gritty of what made it into the film's final cut, what simply had to go and why.
"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," Edwards explained. "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."
Edwards went on to describe an all-too-familiar feeling for moviegoers: the sense that a film has overstayed its welcome. In reviewing the final moments of the film, Edwards started to get that feeling. So, in an effort to stem the tide of boredom, major changes were made at the end of production that tightened up the film's conclusion.
As for a director's cut that shows Edwards' intended ending? Don't hold your breath. "That’s a decision way above me!" Edwards said. "I don’t think there’s any plans to do it."
Arriving on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on April 4, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker.