Reshoots are one of the most radically misunderstood parts of film production to people who have not actually made movies, and they are often reported in ways that are unfair to the actual production team.
Take, for example, the news that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is going to head back in for a set of “extensive” reshoots. That one piece of information is correct. How that information has been interpreted has been fairly diverse, though, and there”s a pretty hefty degree of panic that appears to have immediately set in.
If you were to talk to any director who has ever made one of these big-canvass event films and you asked them if they would have liked to have had a month or even two months after they finished their first cut of the film to go back to set and shoot more material, to a person, the answer would be yes. Hell, if you ask most indie filmmakers that, they would weep from joy. Additional photography, which is what they”re actually doing for Rogue One, is a good thing. If your film isn”t working and you are able to schedule additional photography, that”s great. You can address the things you don”t think are working. If your film works really well and you are given some additional photography, then you have a chance to add gravy, to make it really sing. We saw this recently when people reported all sorts of different things about the Suicide Squad additional photography. They were able to add at least one set piece that Ayer originally had to cut, and they were able to tweak several sequences, making the film even more of what Ayer”s been promising since that very first trailer.
In the case of Rogue One, what I”ve heard is that they are not test-screening the film at all, nor do they have any plans to test screen the film. Everything that”s being done is being done because Lucasfilm and Disney screened the film internally, discussed it with Gareth Edwards, and then came up with a plan to figure out how to land every punch that the film means to throw. I hear that the film right now is good, but they want great. They don”t want to launch the Star Wars Story brand with a good film; they want to launch it with a film that is embraced warmly by fandom, a film that proves that you don”t have to tell the main Skywalker story to do something great in the larger Star Wars universe. This explains the recent announcement to push Godzilla 2 back a bit. Edwards will no doubt be working right up to the moment he delivers Rogue One for release, which isn”t unusual for a Star Wars film. JJ Abrams and his team were making pretty massive creative decisions about the movie right up until the moment the film had to lock print no matter what. In fact, every Star Wars film has taken advantage of some degree of additional photography, and George Lucas was careful to build in time for that after he finished his first cut of each of the prequels. Regardless of how well you think that worked out, Lucas did that because he could, and because he had faith that he could add value to the films using that extra shooting time.
I still don't buy Deadline's version of the story, with Alden Ehrenreich shooting a Han Solo cameo for this one. I think that's Mike Fleming connecting dots that aren't there and then hoping that if he says it enough times, it comes true. When it comes to why they're doing this, though, the mere fact that they're doing it should be encouraging. If you really don”t think a film works at all, you don”t schedule this type of surgical reshoots. This is the Rogue One team working to deliver a film that rewards all the excitement and enthusiasm that greeted the first teaser trailer for the movie. I”ve embedded that at the top of this piece. Look at it again. Imagine what the best version of that movie might be. That”s the film that Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm hope to deliver to you, and this additional photography is just a chance for them to get closer to that target.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be in theaters December 16, 2016.