Posted on Sunday, December 18th, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
The shot above is not from the version of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that you’ll see in theaters. It’s no secret that Rogue One went through an extensive set of reshoots, which very likely led to a better movie. After seeing the film for the first time, I was amazed at how much footage and dialogue in the trailers and marketing wasn’t in the film itself.
In fact, the first Rogue One teaser trailer is comprised almost entirely of footage that wasn’t in the finished film. Some of it is completely different, while other parts are alternate takes and altered dialogue. Iconic lines that were part of the marketing campaign (like “I rebel!”) are nowhere to be found in the completed film. Heck, even the imagery of Stormtroopers patrolling in knee-deep water used in most of the poster and billboard advertising isn’t in the finished film.
The curious part of me wonders what Rogue One was like before the reshoots. What was changed in the process? We might not know the answers to these questions for a while, but I think, looking back at the marketing, that we can find some clues in the unused shots from the trailers. So join me as we adventure through the Rogue One trailers in an effort to decipher this mystery.
Instead of going through each trailer by itself, I decided to order these shots chronologically in the order that they probably would have appeared in the movie. Below you can see the more prominent examples of the Rogue One missing trailer footage alongside my musings on what this tells us about the original cut of the film. Obviously, don’t read this article unless you’ve seen the film as massive spoilers follow.
Deathtroopers search as a big fire fills the background. This shot is likely from the opening sequence. The Erso homestead was probably set ablaze for some reason, but why? Maybe to lure young Jyn out of hiding?
This shot released by Entertainment Weekly features one of the Deathtroopers holding young Jyn’s Stormtrooper doll, which she must have dropped while running away.
Jyn’s first entrance into the Rebel base on Yavin IV is almost completely reworked. Originally it played out as following:
“State your name for the record.”
“Forgery of imperial documents, aggravated assault, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest.”
Mon Mothma: “On your own since the age of fifteen. Reckless, aggressive, and undisciplined.”
“Are you reliable without the shackles?” asks General Draven.
“Yes, sir!,” Jyn snarkily responds.
Most of this dialogue compiled from various trailers is very different. Jyn’s troublemaker backstory is mostly removed from the finished film. Her responses are more antagonistic and somewhat snarky. We had heard that the reshoots reworked the Jyn character to make her less arrogant and abrasive and more empathetic, and it appears this is true.
Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera is shown in the first teaser trailer, questioning Jyn about her choice to help the Rebellion. Gerrera asks her, “What will you do when they catch you? What will you do when they break you? If you continue to fight…. What will you become?” Gerrera here seems to be speaking from his own personal experience. War has changed him, not only psychologically but physically.
But why would Gerrera be lecturing Jyn about this when, at this point in the final movie, she had not committed to joining the Rebellion or even helping in the war? She has only just seen the message from her father before the city of Jedha was targetted by the Death Star. It seems clear that Jyn’s character arc was dramatically changed through the reshoots, but what was it before?
In the behind-the-scenes sizzle reel, we see a scene being prepped outside on Jedha with Forest Whitaker and Felicity Jones hooked up to some kind of rig. But in the theatrical cut of the movie, Jyn and Saw Gerrera never share a scene in this close proximity or outside. This leads me to believe there was originally an action moment featuring Jyn and Saw outside of his compound. Maybe Jyn tried to save Saw before the city was completely destroyed?
In the trailer, Jyn is in the Rebel base on Yavin IV trying to convince the leaders to go after the Death Star plans. While that scene remains in the film, the line “This is a rebellion isn’t it? I rebel!” has been removed from the finished film. This line was either awesome or horrible depending on which person you asked, and it definitely became an iconic staple of Rogue One‘s marketing campaign. The only reason I can think of that they removed the “I rebel” dialogue is that the scene was originally about Jyn trying to convince the Rebel leaders of something else…. but what?
Another one of the iconic shots from the marketing campaign features Jyn in her undercover Imperial outfit turning towards the camera as the lights turn on in this Imperial tunnel. While Jyn does use this disguise in the final film, this awesome shot is not included.
In the Rogue One trailer from August (released after the reshoots), we see Jyn on the Imperial tower walking the platform towards the control panel that she uses to change the dish’s direction in the final cut of the film. But in the trailer, a TIE Fighter rises up from below.
What was originally happening in this scene? Jyn doesn’t seem too frightened by the TIE Fighter’s appearance and the Imperial ship doesn’t seem to quick to kill the Rebel with the Death Star plans. Could it be possible that one of her Rebel friends has stolen the ship? Perhaps the pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed)?
But it appears that she is unable to transmit the Death Star plans from the tower as she does in the final film. Or maybe they had to obtain the plans in one building and then go outside to a different building to broadcast them.
Jyn Erso and K-2SO run through an Imperial facility. This was a sequence which was shot overnight at the Canary Wharf London Tube station. The sequence doesn’t appear in the final film, but we briefly see footage from this location when Jyn, Cassian, and K-2SO arrive off the train on the tropical planet Scarif. The train takes them out towards the landing pads.
What’s notable here is that we see Jyn carrying the Death Star plans, which in the finished film she takes from the server room to the transmission tower. In the movie, K-2SO goes down in a blaze of glory keeping the Imperials from entering the server room. This suggests that K-2SO didn’t initially die in that scene, and instead the Rebels tried to make it back to their ship on the landing pad instead.
It’s also worth noting that director Gareth Edwards talked about this sequence at Star Wars Celebration Europe, which supposedly happened after the extensive reshoots. It’s strange that they would focus on this cut scene after they had decided to completely remove it from the film.
Here we see a shot of Jyn and Cassian running on the beach towards oncoming AT-ACTs. Notice again the object in Jyn’s left hand — the hard drive that contains the Death Star plans. Again, this hard drive never left the Imperial security complex in the theatrical cut of the film.
This again leads me to believe that Jyn’s plan to broadcast the data from the Imperial broadcast tower did not work as planned and our Rebel heroes had to improvise and get the plans off the planet another way.