THE LATEST (7/15): New footage alert! Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm's annual convention, shared the following three-minute clip, which features more Normandy-like action and lots of behind-the-scenes shots and quotes with the creators.
Oh, and Jyn Erso—who is not a Jedi, at the center of a film mostly or entirely devoid of Jedi—says, "May the Force be with us." Holy banthas...
Release date: Dec. 16, 2016
Time since last Star Wars film, Episode VII: The Force Awakens: Two days shy of one year; previous shortest wait was four days shy of three years
Placement in Star Wars chronology: Between 2005's Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope, closer to IV
Historical significance: The first non-trilogy Star Wars film, reportedly the first to not center around any Jedi
First teaser trailer, released April 7, 2016, 37.2 million views as of June 1:
KEY CAST MEMBERS & CHARACTER DETAILS
Character: Jyn Erso, a "streetwise delinquent who has been on her own since 15," according to Entertainment Weekly. (All character descriptions below currently exclusively from EW.) “She has been detained [by the Rebellion] and is being given an opportunity to be useful," Lucasfilm president/Rogue One producer Kathleen Kennedy tells EW. "And by being useful, it may commute her sentence… She’s a real survivor. She becomes a kind of Joan of Arc in the story.”
Previous credits: The Theory of Everything (for which she got a Best Actress Oscar nomination), The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Invisible Woman
Character: Galen Erso, Jyn's estranged father. EW says he's "the galactic version of nuclear pioneer J. Robert Oppenheimer, with doomsday knowledge that is sought by both the Empire and the Rebellion."
Previous credits: Hannibal (the show), Casino Royale, Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money" video
Notable upcoming projects: Marvel's Doctor Strange
Character: Saw Gerrera, who debuted in Season 5 of the George Lucas–created The Clone Wars, "when he was a young man on the planet Onderon, unleashing guerilla combat on the droid army of Separatists who took over his world." He fought alongside Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kathleen Kennedy tells EW, “Consider him kind of a battered veteran who leads a band of Rebel extremists. He’s on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him.”
Previous credits: The Last King of Scotland (Oscar win), Good Morning, Vietnam, Panic Room, Southpaw, the new Roots miniseries
Character: Captain Cassian Andor, a "by-the-book Rebel intelligence officer, brought in to steady the volatile Erso." He's been fighting the Empire for a while and "conveys a fair amount of experience and the reality of what it’s like to do this every day,” per Lucasfilm chief of story development Kiri Hart.
Previous credits: Y Tu Mamá También, The Terminal, Milk, Elysium
Character: Chirrut Imwe, who's "no Jedi, but he’s devoted to their ways and has used his spirituality to overcome his blindness and become a formidable warrior." Kathleen Kennedy calls him "a warrior monk."
Previous credits: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, Ip Man, Blade II, Hero, Highlander: Endgame
Character: Director Orson Krennic, a villain who plans "to use his squad of Deathtroopers to pulverize the Rebel uprising and ascend into the Emperor’s graces—while hopefully avoiding the wrath of his enforcer, Darth Vader." Lucasfilm head of story development Kiri Hart also told EW he's "unpredictable and volatile.”
Previous credits: Bloodline, The Dark Knight Rises, Exodus: Gods and Kings
Character: Baze Malbus, Chirrut's buddy, who "understands Chirrut's spiritual centeredness, but he doesn’t necessarily support it." EW advises us to approach Baze and Chirrut "a little like the galactic version of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza."
Previous credits: Let the Bullets Fly, The Sun Also Rises
Character: Bodhi Rook, the lead pilot for the Rebels. Kathleen Kennedy says “he tends to be a little tense, a little volatile, but everybody in the group really relies on his technical skills.”
Previous credits: Nightcrawler, Day of the Falcon
Notable upcoming projects: Jason Bourne
Character: K-250, a security guard director Gareth Edwards calls “the antithesis of C-3PO" and "a little bit like Chewbacca's personality in a droid’s body, adding that "he doesn’t give a shit about what you think."
Previous credits: Firefly, 42, Arrested Development, plus voice-acting credits in Zootopia and Frozen
Notable upcoming projects: Moana
Genevieve O'Reilly (returning from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith)
Character: Mon Mothma
Previous credits: The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, Episodes
Character: Senator Jebel
Previous credits: Sherlock, The Martian
BEHIND THE CAMERA
Director: Gareth Edwards, the 40- or 41-year-old British director (the internet doesn't know his birthday!) who wrote and directed the 2010 indie sci-fi movie Monsters before taking on the 2014 Godzilla reboot. He previously spent time as an animator and visual/digital effects artist.
Writers: Chris Weitz has the official screenplay credit. He previously wrote and directed About a Boy and The Golden Compass, directed American Pie and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and wrote Disney's Cinderella remake...as well as Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. Rogue One story credits also go to After Earth/The Walking Dead video game writer Gary Whitta and the prolific visual effects artist/supervisor John Knoll, who did Avatar, the three Star Wars prequels, the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire video game, multiple Mission: Impossible and Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Pacific Rim.
Cinematographer: Greig Fraser (the Oscar-winning Zero Dark Thirty and Oscar-nominated Foxcatcher, Let Me In, Snow White and the Huntsman)
Composer: Alexandre Desplat, the first person other than John Williams to soundtrack a Star Wars movie. He's got 166 credits, has been known to do more than a half-dozen films in a year, and won an Oscar for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2015. He's been nominated for seven other Oscars, for movies like Argo, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King's Speech and The Queen. He scored the final two Harry Potter movies and worked with Rogue One screenwriter Chris Weitz on The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Golden Compass.
Editor: Jabez Olssen (two of the Lord of the Rings movies and all three Hobbits, King Kong)
POSTERS & IMAGERY
First cast photo, released Aug. 15, 2015:
First poster, released April 7, 2016, along with the first teaser trailer:
Second poster, released July 15, 2016:
June 24, 2016 Entertainment Weekly cover:
The Nuremberg Toy Fair has a display of the costumes used in Star Wars Rogue One. Check out these pics. pic.twitter.com/Kq1no56aYQ— Looper (@looper) January 30, 2016
October 2012: Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4 billion, reveals plans for Star Wars: Episode VII.
February 2013: Disney CEO Bob Iger announces that, in addition to the new trilogy, "we are working on a few stand-alone films...derived from great Star Wars characters."
January 2014: Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explains the genesis of the anthology films:
"George [Lucas] was so clear as to how that works. The canon that he created was the Star Wars saga. Right now, Episode Seven falls within that canon. The spin-off movies, or we may come up with some other way to call those films, they exist within that vast universe that he created….There is no attempt being made to carry characters (from the standalone films) in and out of the saga episodes. Consequently, from the creative standpoint, it’s a roadmap that George made pretty clear."
May 2014: Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta are announced as the director and writer.
January 2015: Chris Weitz replaces Gary Whitta as screenwriter after Whitta completes his first draft. "The year I spent working with Lucasfilm on this Star Wars film has been by far the most rewarding period of my entire career," Whitta says, adding, "The film is going to be amazing."
March 2015: The title is revealed to be Rogue One.
April 2015: At the annual Star Wars Celebration convention, Gareth Edwards says the movie "comes down to a group of individuals who don't have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy." He adds:
“It’s about the fact that god’s not coming to save us, and we’re on our own. The absence of the Jedi is omnipresent in the film. It hangs over the whole movie.”
August 2015: Accompanying the first cast photo (see POSTERS & IMAGERY), Kathleen Kennedy writes:
“Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe. It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth [Edwards] is such an innovative director and I’m so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he’s selected for Rogue One.”
February 15, 2016: Actor Riz Ahmed tells a red carpet reporter:
"What Gareth Edwards has been bringing to Rogue One is this incredible organic, loose, kind of raw feeling. When he talks about Rogue One, he's spoken about it in terms of a war movie, and comparing it to other war movies. I think what it will bring is just a fresh pair of eyes on a familiar world. And I think that's really exciting, we're doing something a little bit different to the other films. And hopefully people are ready for that and they'll embrace it."
April 7, 2016: The first trailer drops. (See TRAILERS.)
May 10, 2016: The Rogue One teaser gets the Lego treatment:
May 17, 2016: Leaked images from the book Rogue One: A Star Wars Story—The Official Visual Story Guide prominently feature Darth Vader. It's interpreted in some corners as proof that Luke's papa will show up in the story, which, doesn't he kind of have to, considering the era and subject matter?
June 2, 2016: Three sources report that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will undergo several weeks of pricey, unplanned reshoots. The Hollywood Reporter says Disney execs have found the war film vibe to be "tonally off with what a 'classic' Star Wars movie should feel like." The magazine says director Gareth Edwards and company are being asked "to lighten the mood, bring some levity into the story and restore a sense of fun to the adventure." Deadline hears it's considered to be "lacking the edge that Force Awakens had, and the story needs to jell."
The New York Post's Page Six, which first reports the story, hears the following from an anonymous Disney source:
“The filmmaking team and the studio always anticipated additional shooting and second unit work to make the film the absolute best it can be, and the actors were aware there would be additional shooting. Coming off The Force Awakens, there’s an incredibly high bar for this movie and we have a responsibility to the franchise and to the fans to deliver the best possible movie we can.”
The site Making Star Wars has sources saying 40 percent of the film will be re-shot over eight weeks, with 32 sets being recreated. "The quality of the film wasn’t bad," the site says, "it just needs to be better and all involved are happy to make that happen.
June 3: Entertainment Weekly publishes a lengthy article based on the comments of "deeply placed sources on the movie"/"high level sources at Lucasfilm, who spoke to EW independently and anonymously." In response to multiple reports about expensive, troubling, tone-shifting reshoots for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one quote reads, “The changes have everything to do with clarity and character development and all take place [as inserts] within scenes we’ve already shot." And reshoots were planned from the get-go, as they are with many movies.
The word that 40 percent of the project will be re-shot "elicits both laughter and groans from those closest to the film," EW says. They also say it's false that studio executives are unhappy with Rogue One's style, which is poised to be a major deviation from the saga's first seven entries. “The movie is very different than [The Force Awakens], and that’s intentional,” one source says. “It’s a war film.”
One revelation is that two-time Oscar-nominee Tony Gilroy is now lending a hand "to enhance the story," and act as director Gareth Edwards' second unit director on the reshoots. Gilroy was a screenwriter on the four existing Bourne movies as well as Armageddon. He directed 2012's The Bourne Legacy and 2007's Michael Clayton, which he also wrote. He previously worked with Edwards on 2014's Godzilla reboot, helping to "strengthen the story before release."
The money-est of the money quotes, though? A source saying “people will go insane" when they see new Rogue One footage at this July's annual Star Wars Celebration convention.
June 23: Entertainment Weekly drops the previously suspected bomb that Darth Vader will officially appear in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with a bunch of details. James Earl Jones, 85, is returning to voice the Sith Lord to end all Sith Lords. David Prowse, the 80-year-old actor who previously filled Vader's suit, has been replaced by "a variety of large-framed performers." Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy describes Darth Vader's Rogue One presence thusly: “He will be in the movie sparingly. But at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.”
Director Gareth Edwards says the Rebellion at this point in Star Wars history knows little about the man/cyborg previously known as Anakin Skywalker. On Team Palpatine, though, "there’s definitely an underlying feeling that there is a power—a dark power—available to the Empire and that if you overstep your mark, you will suffer the consequences.” Edwards also tells EW about geeking out hard for Vader's first day on set. “Everyone became children again, so easy. You just go straight back to being a 4-year-old, like, in a heartbeat." And yeah, he went to town with the selfies.
The initial EW teaser promises info on the "taller, slimmer walkers known as AT-ACTs hauling cargo, and flatter, fang-like interceptors known as TIE Strikers." They've already shared insightful details on nine characters played by what they're calling "the most multicultural cast to appear in a Star Wars film yet."
Dec. 15, 2017: Star Wars: Episode VIII, written/directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, three historic Breaking Bad episodes)
May 25, 2018: Han Solo origin story movie directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 and 22 Jump Street, Clone High, The Last Man on Earth) starring 26-year-old Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!, Blue Jasmine)
May 24, 2019: Star Wars: Episode IX, directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, Safety Not Guaranteed), co-written by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, who's done C-Trev's two movies and is manning the pen for the upcoming Kong: Skull Island and Jurassic World sequel
Rumored for 2020: Boba Fett standalone movie (if not, definitely some other standalone movie)
Followed by many more: Wired reported in November 2015:
"They are making more. A lot more. The company intends to put out a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as people will buy tickets. Let me put it another way: If everything works out for Disney, and if you are (like me) old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film, you will probably not live to see the last one. It’s the forever franchise."
Then visit a galaxy far, far away (New York Comic Con 2015) to meet some impressive cosplayers: