Gareth Edwards took time to stop by ‘the place where it all began,’ specifically the festival where his first film Monsters premiered years ago.
Appearing at South by Southwest, the director delivered the keynote speech. He was wrangled by the fine folks over at Slash Film who wanted to discuss a few Star Wars related items, including the cut-and-reshot ending to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
They asked specifically why the ending necessitated reshoots and why the original version was not working, and Edwards was surprisingly frank in his answer.
He talked about certain moments needing to be cut that resulted in quite a few scenes, including ones from the epic trailer, being excised completely:
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.
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.
As cool as many things are, and they really are, you can’t outstay your welcome. We’ve all done it. We’ve all sat in a movie and even if you love a film, there’s that moment where you want to look at your watch, or you feel like “Okay, I hope it ends soon.” You don’t want the audience thinking that. You don’t want them to lag. If you feel that when you watch something back, you need to find a way to tighten it somewhere. That was a big win for a compression.
Edwards knows what he’s talking about in regards to pacing and film length. Even the greatest movies can feel a tad bit too long, and they really have to justify their existence in being over the 90-minute mark.
Even the amazing and wonderful film Logan had moments that felt a little too long, despite being completely necessary. The whole end of the second act where the ragtag travelers stayed with a family of farmers dragged out, but it was needed to give the film the impact it delivered by the credit roll.
And Rogue One still had parts that dragged out at points, but it’s nice to know that Edwards made necessary cuts for the sake of the film’s pacing and plot. Even if a few awesome scenes from the trailer had to be sacrificed.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will release digitally on March 24 before hitting Blu-ray and DVD on April 4.
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·Rogue One Gets a Happy Ending From How It Should Have Ended
Directed by Gareth Edwards, it's 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.