For years now, rumors have persisted that Lucasfilm has been looking into making a jump to live-action television. Star Wars has long had a successful animated run with shows such as The Clone Wars, but many have wanted the studio to take the franchise a step further. However, for the time being, the studio seems more than content with its big screen ambitions. This year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi will make its way into theaters following after Rogue One. The latter film premiered last year as the franchise’s first standalone, and diehard fans fell for the movie.
However, it looks like Rogue One was once intended to be done on a much smaller scale. According to John Knoll, the visual effects supervisor said he initially came up with Rogue One when brainstorming live-action television series.
Speaking with Comic Book Resources, Knoll told the site he first stumbled upon the story idea nearly a decade ago.
“I had heard that Lucasfilm was developing stories for a potential live action TV series, and they were active in story development at the time,” he said.
“I started thinking about, ‘What would be a fun thing to do as a one-hour episode as a live action ‘Star Wars’ TV show?’One thought was, ‘What about a Mission Impossible-style break-in into the most secure facility in the Empire to steal the Death Star plans? There could be a lot of tension of potentially being discovered and overcoming security measures. That could be a lot of fun!’”
When Lucasfilm then announced it would begin looking into standalone film ideas, Knoll was persuaded by his friends to pitch Rogue One to Kathleen Kennedy, the head of the studio. The supervisor said he didn’t hear back about the pitch until a week later when Kathleen and Kiri Hart said they were interested in the idea. And, from that point forward, Rogue One fell into its theatrical place.
Directed by Gareth Edwards, Rogue One is the first of the new standalone features from Lucasfilm and Disney, which take place outside the core "Skywalker Saga" of films noted by an Episode number. Rogue One tells the story of the small band of rebels that were tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star.
The story spins directly off the opening crawl from the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. In that crawl, it read: "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."