Reports have been circulating all day that “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the first stand-alone film in the history of “Star Wars,” is in trouble.
PageSix, the originator of the report, claims that Disney executives are not happy with the way the film is turning out and has ordered a series of costly reshoots to be undertaken over the summer. Almost immediately, news outlets began reporting that the film is in trouble, but few have taken the time to see what was being said and by whom.
The crux of their report is a quote from an unnamed source that says, “The execs at Disney are not happy with the movie, and ‘Rogue One’ will have to go back into four weeks of expensive reshoots in July.” But the only on the record word we have from a Disney Executive is Bob Iger from a mere four months ago. He told Entertainment Weekly that they “absolutely love what [they’ve] seen so far.”
Some might dismiss that as him merely telling people what they want to hear, but, by all accounts, Disney has stayed out of the production of the films, leaving that work for Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm.
Next they cite audience reactions at early test screenings, though we haven’t heard of any reports of such screenings, and it may well be too early for such a thing.
The most important point to remember in all of this, though, is that reshoots and pickups are not an automatic indication that a film is in trouble. Every major studio film that is heavy on special FX is going to go through an intensive round of reshoots and pickups. And when you have the money to do reshoots, you do them. You don’t have to settle for that limp performance in that one scene, you can reshoot it. You don’t have to settle for the wardrobe problem that played hell with the FX, you can reshoot it. Maybe director Gareth Edwards just didn’t get the shot he didn’t realize he needed. He has the money to make it right, why not reshoot it?
This is all part of the normal filmmaking process. Can you imagine what it would be like watching a “Star Wars” movie without the score? And with unfinished special effects? And scenes that aren’t cut to their sharpest point? That’s what “Rogue One” looks like right now. Any civilian test audience would see these as flaws. Any competent filmmaker would be able to see the film “Rogue One” will eventually become at the end of the process.
This was something that plagued George Lucas in his early screenings for executives (and even some colleagues) when he first screened an early cut of “Episode IV” to them. It happens.
There is nothing to panic or worry about at the moment.
The time to panic will be on December 17, 2016, after you’ve had a night to digest the film, and you still think it’s a mess. Then you can panic. In the meantime, this is just the way films are made and you should calm down.
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has some more info, and it definitely says “Don’t Panic.” The source there says that Edwards put in a solid showing, but that some more work needed to be done to finesse the tone of the film. Which is also a totally normal thing for movies.