Is it time to start worrying about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? A report over at Page Six (Seriously, people, judge accordingly.) says Disney execs are not happy with the standalone Star Wars film after poor test screenings. And in order to do some course correcting they are sending director Gareth Edwards back in for weeks of "expensive" reshoots this summer with added studio interference.
If all of this sounds familiar it's because there have been a lot of reports of major blockbuster films going in for reshoots lately, such as with Warner Bros.' Suicide Squad. Reshoots are to be expected, but in today's media landscape they've become shorthand for "troubled". Is that the case with 'Rogue One', though? An inside source told the gossip rag that “Disney won’t take a back seat, and is demanding changes, as the movie isn’t testing well." They add that Edwards has failed to hit the "high-bar" set by J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
If that's the comparison Disney is making, and considering the $2B 'Force' earned it's well within their rights to do so, then one can understand their concern. 'Rogue One' is a completely different beast. It doesn't feature familiar characters or continue a storyline fans have been waiting years to see. Instead the film introduces an all new bunch of rebels and villains in a story that is wedged between Episodes III and IV. It follows the Rebel plot to steal the Death Star plans so it can be destroyed, and there are rumors we could get appearances by Darth Vader or Alden Ehrenreich's young Han Solo. Spinoffs are always a tough sell, and there is bound to be some audience confusion about the shift away from chronology. I've heard it at screenings where the trailer for 'Rogue One' has been shown, people asking why there is no sign of Rey or Finn anywhere. That said, the response to the trailer has been positive, even if it looks much darker than Abrams' relatively hopeful film.
As noted earlier, reshoots are typical for major studio films and Disney was always expecting there would be some. The source added, “The filmmaking team and the studio always anticipated additional shooting and second unit work to make the film the absolute best it can be, and the actors were aware there would be additional shooting. Coming off ‘The Force Awakens,’ there’s an incredibly high bar for this movie and we have a responsibility to the franchise and to the fans to deliver the best possible movie we can,”
So maybe when Page Six says Disney is in a "panic" they are going a little overboard? Probably. I always find it funny when a site tries to justify an iffy story by pointing out they were right about something previously. And to be fair, they did score the Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo news before anybody else. Good for them, but it doesn't mean they'll be right about everything from here on out.
I think it's too early to start trying to peg this as another Fantastic Four situation, which some sites out there are already trying to do. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens December 16th.