Rogue One hits theaters in just a few days, and director Gareth Edwards is finally opening up about the reshoots that caused so much confusion and controversy earlier this year.
In a lengthy interview with the Los Angeles Times, Edwards admitted he was frustrated with rumors that Disney had ordered the reshoots because they were unhappy with the film. But he also acknowledged the very nature of Internet rumors means that it’s often “futile to get involved” with the discussions.
So what’s the real story? Edwards is happy to spill the beans.
“What happened was that I’d say a third of the movie or more has this embedded documentary style to it, and as a result we shot hours and hours and days and days of material. Normally when you put a film together it goes together like A-B-C-D-E and you move on. Whereas we had so many permutations, so many different ways it could be constructed, it took longer in the edit to find the exact version.
“We’d always planned to do a pick-up shoot but we needed a lot of time to figure out all this material and get the best out of it. So that pushed the entire schedule in a big way. Then Disney saw the film and reacted really well and they said, ‘Whatever you need, we’re going to support you.’
“Our visual effects shot count went from 600 to nearly 1,700, so suddenly we could do absolutely anything we wanted. To design 1,000 visual effects shots should take a year, so it was all hands to the pump and we never came up for air really until about a week ago.”
This explanation lines up with previous comments from Edwards and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, both of whom downplayed the controversy earlier this year. On major tentpole releases, reshoots are almost always built into the schedule and budget, and even Star Wars: The Force Awakens spent several weeks picking up additional photography.
In fact, Edwards thinks the reshoot process is beneficial to ensure the best version of the film can be realized.
“It would be beautiful if you write a story, you shoot exactly that, you edit it and it’s a hit. But art — or good art — doesn’t work like that. It’s a process, and you experiment and react and improve. And if I make more films, which I hope to, I want to make them like that as well, where it’s organic and it’s not predetermined.”
Full-length reviews for Rogue One haven’t arrived yet, but early buzz in the wake of Saturday’s world premiere indicates the hard work from Edwards and his team paid off in a big way.
The rest of us will find out for ourselves when the film opens on Dec. 16.
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