Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
Does Star Wars: Rogue One need an opening crawl? This is a conversation I had with friends months ago, but its now come to the forefront thanks to recent comments from Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy. So let’s dive in and explore the reasons I believe that Rogue One should have an opening crawl.
Why Rogue One Might Not Have an Opening Crawl
Before we get to why Rogue One should have an opening crawl, lets explain why Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy believe it might not be necessary. She has said that it is important that “these Star Wars stories [are] embracing the uniqueness of the different genres, and we’re very deliberately leaning into the various styles of directors that we’re approaching so that each of these movies will very intentionally have a very different tone and style from the saga films.” For instance, Gareth Edwards‘ handheld and visceral stylistic preference will be unlike anything seen in the George Lucas movies. Makes sense. As for whether the film will have an expositional opening crawl, which has been a staple of this series since 1977:
We talk about that all the time. It’s something that we’re right in the midst of discussing even now, so I don’t want to say definitively what we’re doing. The crawl and some of those elements live so specifically within the ‘saga’ films that we are having a lot of discussion about what will define the [stand-alone] Star Wars Stories separate and apart from the saga films. So we’re right in the middle of talking about that.
I agree that it is important to differentiate the Star Wars Story standalone films from the Skywalker saga movies, but I think that dropping the opening crawl will hurt more than help in this effort.
The Crawl Helps to Educate the Audience and Set Expectations
I believe an opening crawl is the best way to explain where and when this story is set. It’s best to do this up front and not confuse anyone.
I know what Rogue One is about. You know what Rogue One is about. But many normal civilians who don’t read movie blogs may not understand the basic timeline. I’ve seen many people on Twitter confuse Felicity Jones for Daisy Ridley‘s character Rey, even though they barely look alike. I’ve also seen people complain about the Empire/First Order building yet another Death Star. In person, I’ve talked to quite a few people who couldn’t answer the simple question of when in the Star Wars timeline is this movie set. I’ve even asked Star Wars geeks who didn’t know if this was the first Death Star from A New Hope, or the second Death Star from Return of the Jedi.
Sure, we only have one teaser trailer, an Entertainment Weekly article, and a few photos at this point. I’m sure as the marketing ramps up it will better educate moviegoers about what this movie is and where the story is set in the timeline. But for many people watching this movie in the years to come, there won’t be trailers and commercials to set up the expectations. And now that the Episode numbers are being completely abandoned from the Skywalker Saga logos, it becomes even more confusing in the legacy viewings of these films.