More film news out of the Star Wars Celebration con today in Anaheim, this time focusing on the spinoff films that will becoming out in the years between Episodes 7, 8 and 9. Specifically, the director of the first such film, due in December 2016, Gareth Edwards confirmed details about the story that have been rumored for months.
Edwards stated that Star Wars: Rogue One would be set between the original Star Wars trilogy and the prequel trilogy and be centered on a group of rebels on a mission to steal the Death Star plans, confirming rumors that first began circulating last November. “It comes down to a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.”
The official Star Wars twitter account tweeted out the description at the same time.
A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans in Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One #RogueOne.
— Star Wars (@starwars) April 19, 2015
Edwards further stressed that he was going for perhaps a little grittier tone, referencing such films as Zero Dark Thirty and Saving Private Ryan. To further that end, it was announced that Zero Dark Thirty cinematographer Greig Fraser would be shooting the film. Star Wars.com also released this photo from the panel which features some production art of Rebel soldiers charging forward through the rain, showing the type of tone he is shooting for.
Now, I suppose that a criticism could be leveled at the film that since we know that Princess Leia does indeed have possession of the Death Star plans at the start of Episode IV- A New Hope that there can be no inherent tension or drama to the story. But, we also know how any movie about World War Two will ultimate end. (With the exception of Inglorious Basterds, of course.) The trick here is for Edwards to create characters we care about and the drama/tension comes from who will make it back alive. This is a “men on a mission” film set in the Star Wars universe.
It was also revealed at the panel that the idea for the film came from Industrial Light and Magic’s chief creative officer (and co-creator of Photoshop) John Knoll, who will be getting a story credit for the film. Currently, Chris Weitz, who earned an Academy Award nomination for adapting the novel About A Boy to the big screen, is working on the film’s screenplay, taking over from Gary Whitta.
Additionally, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced that Rogue One and the other stand alone, spinoff films being developed will all fall under the umbrella title of Star Wars: Anthology, a title suggested by George Lucas.