Star Wars is a unique franchise. It already has three generations of fans, and is picking up new ones all along the way. Many have been fans since the original trilogy of films came out in the late 70s and early 80s, some picked up on those films a decade and a half later when they were re-released in theaters, some from the prequel trilogy, others from the pair of animated series, and even more still from the launch of the sequel trilogy with last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Plus, video games, novels, and comics have pulled in fans through other mediums - there's a lot of Star Wars out there.
When making the first standalone film in the franchise, though, director Gareth Edwards knew it would have to strike a balance in tone that reached out to modern audiences but felt like it could fit in alongside that original trilogy. That's because Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fills in the blanks of the first Star Wars movie's opening crawl, literally tied into those first four sentences ever published about the franchise. When Edwards was asked at the Rogue One press junket about what he wanted to pull in from the original trilogy to make his film feel authentically Star Wars, he couldn't help but laugh.
“The problem with Star Wars is that question takes about four hours [to answer]," the director said, drawing laughs from the crowd of journalists and the others on the dais alike. "There’s not an individual thing that you look at, say 'that’s Star Wars,' and you’re golden. There’s about a thousand different things, and you have to mix them all together, and get the balance just right; it’s a really tricky thing to emulate what we like about the original."
Ultimately, it was blending, not separating, that Edwards realized would "crack the code." He took his inspiration from the source: Star Wars creator George Lucas. Lucas used a mixture of comedy, drama, romance, serials, westerns, samurai films, WWII movies, rollicking adventures and political intrigues to inspire his own films, after all.
“For me, we could’ve just put this in one specific genre and said ‘that’s our movie.’ But George was always really good about mixing genres together, and creating this very emotional, mythological story that just happened to have robots and spaceships in it. There’s meaning behind it, and it took us a long time to crack that code. It’s not something you just do in a week. It’s a long process."
That process has come to an end now, as fans get to see the results later this week.
MORE STAR WARS NEWS: Star Wars: How Gareth Edwards Found the WWII Feel for Rogue One | Kevin Smith Says Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Is Empire Strikes Back Great | Mark Hamill Thinks Star Wars Standalones Have An Advantage Over the Saga | Why Darth Vader's Costume Changed for Rogue One| How Rogue One Opens Without a Crawl | Spoiler-Free Review of First 30 Minutes of Rogue One
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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."