The filmmakers for ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY was afraid that Disney wouldn’t like the dark tone of the ending, and they wrote a Disney ending.
It’s funny, actually. We understand that a Disney movie tends to be a Disney movie because they have a Disney ending – meaning nothing bad or sad happens at the end, and everyone lives happily ever after. Or something like that.
At least that’s what the filmmakers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were thinking when screenwriter Gary Whitta wrote the first script for the movie. You see, the first script actually had an ending in which main protagonists Jyn Erso and a Cassian Andor-type person would escape and survive the destruction of Scarif.
More details about the script revealed changes in the the protagonists roles and situations in the Republic and the non-existence of some of the supporting characters, including former Empire pilot Bodhi Rook and Chirrut “I am the Force, the Force is with me” Imwe. One thing that did cross from the original script to the final draft was K-2S0’s fate.
“I didn’t say everyone made it off. Kaytoo always died,” Whitta said. “Jyn did survive. ‘Cassian’ also survived. There were a lot of casualties on both sides, in both versions of the scripts.”
With some encouragement, director Gareth Edwards and his creative team decided to fight for the ending they wanted, and luckily for all of us, Lucasfilm gave them the go-ahead to have their “everyone dies at the end” ending.
The Death Star emerges from hyperspace to lay waste to Scarif and protect the Empire’s secrets by destroying the special weapons facility along with the Rebel incursion.
But this time there was no last-second broadcast of the plans from a satellite tower. Jyn and Cassian were to escape the surface of the beach world carrying the data tapes.
“A rebel ship came down and got them off the surface,” Whitta says. “The transfer of the plans happened later. They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.”
Darth Vader was still in pursuit and began attacking Jyn’s shuttle as the Rebels tried desperately to transfer the information from the data tapes to Leia’s vessel. Finally, Vader was successful in breaching their shields and destroying the craft.
The audience would have been left fearing the heroes were dead. But as Vader’s Star Destroyer ventures off to chase Leia’s Tantive IV, we would have remained focused on the shuttle fragments floating in the vastness of space.
“They got away in an escape pod just in time,” Whitta said. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.”
I can only imagine the kind of backlash Lucasfilm or Disney would have gotten had they rejected the darker ending. It’s one thing to try to keep the heroes alive for the Disney ending, but it’s a whole other thing to recreate such an obvious unoriginal idea from a classic movie, especially since this is not a comedy with some kind of parody involved.
More behind-the-scenes stories will be revealed in the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story DVD/Blu-Ray edition. The digital HD version of the movie is already out, but you can order the DVD/Blu-Ray today, which comes out April 4th