As Star Wars Celebration enters its final day the last big panel on the deck deals with the first “standalone” film. Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s vice president of development Kiri Hart, and director Gareth Edwards took to the Celebration stage at the event to discuss what’s being referred to as an “anthology film,” and to reveal a brief teaser. Josh Trank, who’s set to direct a 2018 anthology film of his own, was scheduled to appear during the panel as well, but unexpectedly backed out at the last minute due to illness.
We already knew that Star Wars: Rogue One would feature Felicity Jones in a lead role and had been circling Ben Mendelsohn for a part and that Alexandre Desplat would score the picture with Chris Weitz doing some work on the script that was originated by Gary Whitta. So what else did we learn from the Celebration panel?
You should refer to the “spinoffs” as anthology films. Kennedy said they discussed the proper term for the films a lot.
- The stand-alone films were part of George Lucas’ idea. He wanted to explore all of the stories that take place inside the Star Wars universe. These films will still feel like Star Wars, but stand on their own and introduce new characters and places.
- This is director Gareth Edwards’ first Celebration (surprisingly, it was also Kiki Hart’s first). Edwards said the most amazing thing he saw was the trailer premiere for The Force Awakens. He said he tried so hard not to cry, but he couldn’t help it when he saw Han Solo and Chewie come home.
- Even though the film hasn’t started shooting yet, Edwards screened a small peek at what’s to come. The trailer was made entirely by ILM. Obi-Wan’s Voice narrates, “For over a thousand of generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the Dark Times. Before the Empire.” The camera slowly tracks through a forest to reveal the Death Star looming over the horizon of an unknown planet. As would be expected, the crowd exploded into cheers.
Rogue One takes place between Episode III and Episode IV, but Edwards noted “maybe a little bit more towards IV,” and said that A New Hope is his favorite film.
- The official synopsis is as follows: “A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans.”
- One of the interesting elements of the film is that there are almost no Jedi. Rogue One takes place in a time when the Jedi are all but extinct and a group of people without magical powers must step up to save the galaxy.
- Rogue One is set in the same time period as the animated series Star Wars Rebels, and while there is no mandate that different properties cross over, they are definitely aware of the potential.
- They want the film to feel “real”. Edwards said, “It’s hopefully going to feel very natural and subjective.” He doesn’t want the good guys to be all good, or the bad guys to be all bad. It’s about the shades of grey.
- Fitting into that idea, the creative team they announced has a lot of experience on war films. Director of Photography Greig Fraser worked on Zero Dark Thirty, VFX supervisor Neil Corblud worked on Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan. Neil Lamont and Doug Chiang are production designers.
- “You’re not kidding about this being a war picture,” noted the moderator, to which Edwards replied, “It is called Star WARS.”
Filming will begin in late summer. They’re in pre-production now with filming set for the UK and other locations around the world.
- John Knoll from ILM came up with the original idea for the film. Knoll was pitching this story for awhile and everyone at ILM loved it, and he pitched it to Kennedy and Hart very soon after they took over Lucasfilm. According to Kennedy, Rogue One was one of the first pitches she heard when she came onboard.
- According to Hart, they want directors to be involved very early in the creation of the Anthology films. Edwards was recommended as director by a number of people, and they were impressed by his reverence for Star Wars. Edwards said he was so exhausted from making Godzilla that he hoped he would hate the idea, but when he read it and got to the end he said, “Oh fuck.” Edwards said, “I couldn’t sit in a cinema and know someone else made this film.”
- Edwards didn’t tell anyone (except his assistant) he got the job for six months, even his parents! He even got Star Wars presents from his family at Christmas and had to play it cool. One day he got a call saying that the press had the story and he should call his parents “right now!” They showed a still picture of his beaming mother on FaceTime.
- Gareth took a 30th birthday trip to Tunesia where he drank blue milk while sitting at the Lars family table.
For more on Star Wars: Rogue One, check out the links below:
- STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE Synopsis and Timeline Revealed
- STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE Teaser Trailer Description; Concept Art Unveiled
And for more from Star Wars Celebration, peruse these links:
- New STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Trailer Features Familiar Faces
- STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS Costumes, Props, and Klyo Ren’s Lightsaber in High Resolution
- STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS: 17 Things We Learned from the Celebration Panel
- First STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Poster
- STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Images: Check out over 40 Screengrabs from the New Trailer
- New STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Images Reveal the Lead Cast