Yes, it's true: there will be a new Star Wars live-action movie in theaters this month, and it will not have an opening crawl. Something discussed since July at Star Wars Celebration Europe in London, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards recently confirmed that the Star Wars standard flying wall of text would not be seen in this film. Their reasoning is that is more of a "Skywalker Saga" convention, and they wanted to differentiate the standalone films.
So how does it kick off instead? Read on, with very mild spoilers.
Fans will be relieved to hear that while there is no opening crawl - really, it's not there - the film does still start with the classic text, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." on an otherwise blank screen. Comicbook.com and other select press screened the opening 10 minutes, plus 18 minutes of other select footage from the film over the weekend at Skywalker Sound Theatre at the Skywalker Ranch, and with it the new introduction. After the bright blue text, Rogue One becomes only the second Star Wars film ever to start with a tilt up, from planet to Imperial shuttle.
We won't spoil the rest of the scene for you, except to say that it takes place fifteen years before the events of the rest of the movie, something the actors and creatives have already mentioned. It features a young Jyn Erso living with her parents on a remote world, hiding from the Empire. Director Orson Krennic, the villain of the piece, comes to retrieve her father Galen, setting the story in motion. Jyn successfully hides from Krennic and his Death Troopers, rescued by a surprise character, and as soon as she sees him, the screen goes black:
It says, in big bold letters. The theme is also different - don't expect John Williams' classic "Main Title," though it does get slightly hinted at in a way recognizable to music buffs. It's short and sweet - a single musical phrase that points to the frenetic pace of storytelling viewers are about to experience. After that single title card, it jumps right back into the action, fifteen years later, but you'll have to experience that for yourself next week.
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits US theaters December 16, 2016. 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. 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."