If you see Rogue One this weekend (or indeed, at any point), you may notice there are a few moments and scenes from its trailers that aren’t in the final movie.
Look - movies go through a lot of different edits. As a result, material that appears in a movie’s marketing campaign quite often won’t make it to the final film. That can be for a number of reasons. Scenes might be cut due to pacing or tonal issues. Alternate angles or takes could be used. Sometimes entire subplots or characters might get excised, or sequences reshot.
Much was made of Rogue One’s reshoots when they took place, and the producer notes are acutely felt in the resultant film, be they on tone, narrative, or character beats. We’ll likely never know the true extent of the reshoots - nor of the "additional editing" performed by Stuart Baird after three editors had already had a crack. But by examining the film's trailers and TV spots, we can get a vague idea.
I’m not criticising the Rogue One team for doing this. Shots and dialogue in trailers serve a different purpose to those that make it into the final product. A two-second soundbite might play clunkily in context, but in a trailer, it can communicating information in a small space of time. Is that false advertising? Some might say so (and have). Would I still use deleted material if it cuts a more succinct - if less precisely honest - trailer? You bet I would. The changes made to the movie itself were surely for the best, and the trailers - at least some of which were cut before the edit was locked - are still more or less an accurate representation of the film.
Anyway, here we go: a look through the deleted and tweaked scenes that if nothing else illustrates how much movies can change in post-production.
Jyn Gets A Dressing-Down
Jyn Erso’s initial briefing scene originally ran a bit longer. Our heroine is led through the Yavin 4 base in shackles and given a laundry list of her crimes - “forgery of imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest” - before being dressed down by Mon Mothma as being “reckless, aggressive, and undisciplined.” This kind of scene would be a little redundant in the final film, where seeing Jyn’s rebellious nature is far more interesting than having it read out to us. But for an initial trailer, it gave us a sense of who the main character was - and that’s fine. Bonus: we’re spared the “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel” clanger in the final movie.
Clear-Felled Forest Whitaker
Something weird’s going on with rebel extremist Saw Gerrera. It seems as though all of his scenes may have been reshot, because in some trailers (and the movie) the guy has hair, and in some he doesn’t. The location of his ominous cut “what will they do when they break you?!” speech made me wonder whether Bald Saw was from a flashback, but then he appears hairless in his little Jedha hideout as well. More intriguingly, Jyn has a line seemingly delivered to Saw, entreating him to “make a real difference.” I’m pretty sure this wasn’t in the film, and if it’s from the sequence I think it’s from, it renders that scene totally different from a functional character point of view. Instead of Saw trying to reach an ambivalent Jyn, it’s Jyn trying to sway a stubborn Saw - something that’s completely at odds with her character arc at that point in the movie. I want to see this deleted dialogue, solely because Whitaker’s Mad Max escapee performance is so goddamn strange.
Welcome To Rogue One
A pair of deleted bits on board Rogue One itself suggests a couple of changes to the movie. A shot where Jyn says “welcome to Rogue One” comes across as overly self-assured and official, while the birth of the callsign in the final film plays as hasty and improvised. Then we have a brief, vague exchange between Jyn and Cassian, whose location in the film I can’t quite place. My best guess is that it takes place either at the start of the third act, or at the end of it (see below).
Krennic V Vader: Rematch
There seems to have been either one or two additional sequences on the Death Star featuring Darth Vader and/or Orson Krennic. In one, Krennic lectures Vader on the “immeasurable” power contained within the Death Star - something about which the Sith Lord likely got well and truly tired of hearing by the end of Return of the Jedi. In others, the two Imperials simply stand there and look imposing. I mean, they do it pretty well.
The biggest and most obvious change hinted at by the trailers comes in the film’s finale. Jyn’s face-off against a TIE fighter is nowhere to be seen in the final film, and it's unclear how that was meant to have played out. More interesting is the fact that Jyn and Cassian’s escape from the Scarif communications tower - and the race to get the Death Star plans offworld - started out being much more dramatic. Jyn, Cassian, and K-2SO can be seen running through the base and into the still-raging ground battle, with Jyn still clutching the plans. Perhaps they initially had to get the plans to the shuttle, either for transmission or for extraction. And what’s Krennic doing at ground level, apart from getting his pearly-white cape soaked? Was there a version of this movie where they didn’t all die? We may never know.
There’s more, of course. Many shots and lines of dialogue - notably, a couple K-2SO quips - seemed too inconsequential to write about. Some, I may have just plumb forgotten about after my screening(s). And naturally, there’s a hoard of deleted and altered material somewhere we’ll never even know about. This is about as close as we get, barring Blu-Ray extras or tell-alls, to seeing how the Star Wars sausage gets made.
I’ll leave you with this shot. I can’t remember whether it made it into the movie, but even if it was, it's still a pretty rad shot.