The Star Wars Celebration convention continues. Mere days after unveiling the universally enjoyable second teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a second panel packed with franchise fans would parcel fresh intel regarding one of the two upcoming Star Wars stand-alone films. Today’s panel was originally supposed to feature Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank, but the latter director was a no-show due to an illness. So, only Edwards’ Rogue One spinoff film was discussed, and Trank’s still untitled Star Wars pic wasn’t brought up. Moving on!
Godzilla director Edwards was joined on stage by Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart. First and foremost, we’ve got a description for Rogue One: “A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans,” spills Star Wars’ official Twitter feed. At the panel, it was confirmed that The Theory of Everything‘s Felicity Jones will star as a Rebel soldier.
A brief teaser was screened at the panel; Lucasfilms has yet to post a clean copy of it online, but that never stopped the Internet before. You can search YouTube for cell phone recordings but be quick about it–they’ll be pulled before long. In case you can’t find it, here’s a quick description of the action. It opens with narration from Alec Guinness who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film. The dialogue pulled from A New Hope went like this: “For more than a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.” The visuals start on a planet teeming with lush forestry. As the camera starts panning towards a bright sky, a TIE Fighter zooms by heading for what appears to be the planet’s nearby moon. As we follow it fly away, we realize that’s no moon–it’s the original Death Star hanging beyond the clouds. The teaser goes black, and just as solider radio coms chatter starts to get hectic, the Star Wars Rogue One title card appears.
Be mindful that this footage was made in collaboration with the folks at Industrial Light & Magic specially for this reveal. Edwards and his team are currently in pre-production with shooting set to begin this summer. The clip is a mere taste of what’s to come. In addition to the footage, concept art was also displayed for the rabid crowd; it depicts soldiers storming onto a rainy, muddy planet.
Edwards briefly expanded on Rogue One. “It’s the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good. It’s complicated, layered; a very rich scenario in which to set a movie,” he said. Don’t expect the film’s main set of characters to bring down their enemies with The Force or other mythological powers, because they won’t. Edwards says, “It comes down to a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.” Sounds like a much more grounded, realistic approach to the franchise, one we haven’t yet seen. Edwards’ spinoff is very much a war movie; the director cited Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down as inspirations. “It’s called Star … Wars,” he reminded the crowd. In terms of where it fits in the Star Wars timeline: Edwards confirmed Rogue One takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope.
Expanding Star Wars‘ inherently sci-fi tendencies and pushing the franchise’s genre in new directions is, in fact, the point here. “The idea behind these movies is that Star Wars, as much as it is a set of stories and characters we know, it’s also a place–a place we can explore in terms of character and time,” said Hart. Edwards’ Rogue One will showcase a heist story set in a gritty, war-torn environment with relatable soldiers who wield no magic. Though we don’t have information to go on yet about Trank’s spinoff, his film is also set to play with the genre and inject new storytelling elements into the franchise.
We should stop using the term “spinoff films” at this point, since Kennedy and Hart introduced a new branding term for all non-trilogy franchise films. All spinoff/standalone movies set in the Star Wars universe are to be referred to as films in the “Star Wars Anthology Series.”
Star Wars Rogue One, the first Star Wars Anthology Series film, is slated to hit theatres December 16, 2016.
An incredible look at Electronic Arts’ video game Star Wars: Battlefront waits after the break. READ MORE Star Wars stand-alone pic ‘Rogue One’ details surface; ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ game trailer inside