A new trailer for Rogue One just came out and goddamn it’s good. Between some pretty incredible visuals—that fallen Jedi monument legit gave me a chill—to the haunting variation on the famous theme, to the rousing rebellion story it’s laying out, this looks like a damn good movie. But of course, there were the rumors and the reshoots, so we’re all worried. But if this is what the movie looks like after additional photography, then it seems LucasFilm has pulled another winner out of their ass—they reshot a significant portion of The Force Awakens, too—because Rogue One looks great.
Felicity Jones is interviewed in The Hollywood Reporter this week, and she’s talking about those Rogue One reshoots: “Obviously when you come to the edit, you see the film come together and you think, ‘Actually, we could do this better, and this would make more sense if we did this.’ I've done it so many times.” LucasFilm chief Kathleen Kennedy has also played down the reports, calling them routine elements of any large-scale film, which is true. Everyone does reshoots.
But not everyone spends $30 million on them, which is the rumored price tag of Rogue One’s additional photography. The whole point of leaking the reshoot rumor in the first place, though, was to put Disney and LucasFilm on the back foot and force them to keep making assurances that their movie is good, which is basically the film version of someone saying, “Trust me,” the least trustworthy statement known to man. And that worked, because everyone is a little nervous about Rogue One.
There’s bigger and more immediate reasons to worry, though, that have nothing to do with the production and everything to do with marketing. Rogue One, despite the “A Star Wars Story” subtitle, is tracking surprisingly soft in awareness. And when people are aware of it, they’re confused because they think this is Episode VIII. Casting two (relatively) unknown brunette British actresses hasn’t helped—a lot of people are confusing Jones and Daisy Ridley—but the main issue seems to be that the first trailer didn’t do a good enough job establishing the story as distinct from Rey and Finn. I think that’s why this trailer is giving up so many story points, to clarify that this is a different band of scrappy rebels with a different goal in mind.
Rogue One is going to make money. It’s coming out in time for Christmas, which is a huge movie-going holiday, and it’s family-friendly and also a known quantity (Star Wars), so even if people are confused about where Finn is and why does Rey look different, they’ll still go see it. But it’s not the invincible, inevitable juggernaut of The Force Awakens. And it has some competition in the form of Passengers, also a space-based sci-fi movie, and this one stars actors people recognize. Rogue One has the advantage—it will appeal to kids in a way Passengers won’t—but it will be interesting to see how the Space Movie Battle of 2016 plays out.
Attached - Felicity Jones in London promoting Inferno.