Why I'm Worried And Excited That Michael Giacchino Is Scoring 'Rogue One'

Last night it was revealed that Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino would be replacing Alexandre Desplat to score Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. When I heard the news after arriving at a press screening of The Magnificent Seven, I was met with two conflicting emotions: excitement and dread. Here's why.

rogue one: a star wars story

What If Disney Made A Bad Star Wars Movie?

Over the Summer, word started to spread that Disney was unhappy with the first cut of their first Star Wars anthology film. The first rumors to be reported by New York Post's Page Six claimed that Disney execs were not happy with the movie that Gareth Edwards had made and had ordered "four weeks of expensive reshoots" over the month of July.

The Hollywood trades followed up this report claiming that Disney executives thought the film was "tonally off with what a 'classic' Star Wars movie should feel like." Reportedly the tone of the movie felt more like a traditional war drama than it did a Star Wars movie and the reshoots were an attempt to "lighten the mood, bring some levity into the story and restore a sense of fun to the adventure."

The rumor mill went into full effect, claiming that up to 40% of the film was being reshot (a number apparently based on unconfirmed reports that the reshoots would last 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks ) and that Christopher McQuarrie, who had done some script work on the film, would be directing the reshoots as a replacement for director Gareth Edwards (McQuarrie told us this rumor was not true).

We later learned that Tony Gilroy was brought in to "write some additional material to enhance the story" as well as work as second unit director of the film. Stunt coordinator and second unit director Simon Crane would also be brought on, apparently for stunt work, which seemed to suggest a little more than some in cockpit talking scenes.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Donnie Yen) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL

The Other Side of the Story

Then came Entertainment Weekly, who some seem to believe are acting as the unofficial mouthpiece for Lucasfilm. The magazine claimed that the reshoots were being conducted to make changes that "have everything to do with clarity and character development and all take place [as inserts] within scenes we've already shot" and not entirely new scenes. Their sources seemed to laugh at the rumors that upwards of 40% of the movie was being reshot. The reason given for the reshoots being scheduled for such an extended amount of time was that they had to bring back the entire cast and scheduling was difficult.

Edwards later told EW that reshoots were always part of the plan, "I mean it was always part of the plan to do reshoots. We always knew we were coming back somewhere to do stuff. We just didn't know what it would be until we started sculpting the film in the edit."

"Reshoots" is a dirty word in entertainment journalism, often used as an indicator of a disastrous film production. But the truth of the matter is, reshoots can be a good thing. I wrote a piece in June explaining that the purpose of reshoots is to make a movie better, not worse. It's not that I wasn't worried about what I was hearing about Rogue One, it's that I tend to believe that Disney is spending all of that money for a reason: they want to release a good movie that will meet and exceed fan expectations.

And when Disney finally released the Rogue One trailer, it seemed almost like a response to some of these reports in a way: saying, look – this IS a war movie, and it will have a different tone than the Star Wars movies you know and love. The trailer was generally liked online, but most Star Wars fans I've talked to were not too excited by the trailer. They, like me, found themselves not as emotionally invested as they were with any of The Force Awakens trailers. But is that just because this is a whole different story in this world? Or is it because the trailers lacked some kind of Star Wars magic?

One the next page find out if Michael Giacchino could be a bad sign for Rogue One and why I'm still excited despite the nervousness.

Michael Giacchino scoring

Michael Giacchino Is Scoring Rogue One: Is It A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing?

The latest change came last night with composer Michael Giacchino replacing Alexandre Desplat on the film. The reason for the change is supposedly scheduling conflicts caused by the reshoots. The additional photography pushed back the timetable, and as a result, Desplat was no longer available. It sounds like a possible story but is it true? I would think that Desplat would have started composing music for the film at an earlier point. Could it be that Disney wanted a new composer to help turn the tone of the film around? And if so, is that necessarily a bad thing?

For me, Giacchino's work sounds more in-line with the Star Wars franchise than Desplat. And I know you could look at that as a potential problem. Rogue One is trying to be a very different film set in the Star Wars universe, and Disney is trying to make it feel more like the same Star Wars that we all love. And that's not to say that Giacchino's score won't be as different as Desplat score would have been. I was interested to see what someone like Desplat would bring to this franchise and now we'll probably never know.

As much as Disney and Lucasfilm are working to downplay the changes they are making to this film, it seems obvious to anyone watching this situation play out that some significant shifting is happening behind the scenes to bring this movie to the place it needs to be. The two sides of the story are very different, and as I have said before, the reality probably exists somewhere in the middle. But even in that middle ground, it appears that Disney wasn't happy with the film that Edwards made. But movies evolve all the time, and while sometimes studio meddling can result in something like Suicide Squad, other times it can lead to something like World War Z.

I'm a huge fan of Giacchino's work – he might be my favorite composer working today. Why? He is somehow able to create emotion inside of me in a way I haven't seen since early John Williams. In fact, when it was announced that JJ Abrams was going to direct Star Wars Episode VII, I was excited about the possibility of having a Star Wars movie scored by Michael. While I loved Rey's theme and the music that accompanies Rey's meeting with Luke at the end of the film, I was disappointed by Williams' score for The Force Awakens.

So to hear that Giacchino will be scoring a Star Wars movie makes me very excited. Yes, I'm also still worried about Rogue One, but knowing that Giacchino will be bringing the symphonic heart is reassuring.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives on December 16th, 2016.