“Rogue One” is a standalone spinoff story about Rebel spies stealing Death Star plans before the events of “A New Hope”; its director, Gareth Edwards, known primarily for an indie creature feature before he led 2014’s surprisingly visionary “Godzilla” reboot, has promised a harrowing, Force-less war film “about the fact that God’s not coming to save us.” But after the crowd-pleasing heroics of “The Force Awakens” dominated box offices worldwide, has Disney decided a darker, scarier, film-geek-friendly Star Wars experience is too risky a move? —Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic
Rogue One is far from the only Star Wars spinoff project in trouble. A number of writers and directors, originally encouraged to be “visionary” and “film-geek-friendly,” now find themselves at odds with backtracking Disney executives. The following is only a partial list of industry rumors and gossip.
Speeder Bike Thieves
Test audiences have reported distress (and in some cases, boredom) at watching this neorealism-inspired film centered on the economic realities of a forest moon society attempting to rebuild after a galactic war. The film takes place on Yavin 4 in the months after the climactic battle in A New Hope, and concerns a man desperate for work as he attempts to support his wife, young son, and baby. He is offered a job posting anti-Imperial propaganda posters on giant redwoods, but there’s a catch: he must own a 74-Z Speeder Bike. The man has already pawned his speeder to feed his family, but his wife pawns their juicer, the man gets his old speeder back, and he heads to work—where his speeder is promptly stolen. The man and his son search for the stolen speeder, and the film currently ends on a heartbreaking note when the son watches his father fail to steal a speeder, after which he is confronted by an angry mob. Planned reshoots reportedly involve a speeder chase through the Yavin forest, the possible introduction of comic relief via a panda-bear-ish “cousin species” of the Ewoks, and a plot device in which the father is secretly attempting to paste up or maybe steal the plans to a new Death Star or Death-Star-like construction.
The Night of the Galactic Bounty Hunter (in development)
Hollywood tongues have been wagging about how studio executives are worried this story violates timelines, character traits, or gender identities previously established in the Star Wars canon. The current script tells a story that takes place in a small town on Dagobah, where a man kills two people in a bank robbery, then hides the money in his children’s Ewok doll before being arrested. In prison, he shares a cell with bounty hunter Mitchum Fett, who fails at trying to talk the man into revealing the location of the money. The man is executed, but after Fett is released, he finds, courts, and marries the man’s widow, pretending to be a believer in the Force. After Fett freezes their mother in carbonite, the children escape into the swamp with the doll and take refuge with Yoda, a tough old broad who takes in stray children. Yoda and Fett battle, and the film ends with Fett arrested and sentenced to death, while the children enjoy Star Wars Christmas with Yoda. Casting has been a challenge, with actors pointing out that the primary roles are for children, a puppet, and a character (Fett) hidden at all times beneath full body armor. Studio executives have also suggested that rather than money, perhaps the father could steal the plans to a Death Star or Death-Star-like construction.
Fellini’s Endor (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
Though Federico Fellini died in 1993, Quentin Tarantino is currently in pre-production on this film-geek-friendly Star Wars film in which he has agreed to imitate the style of the inimitable Italian auteur. Fellini’s Endor will tell the story of the shocking, crude, and shameless Endor of Chieftain Ewok Chirpa’s youth. The director and studio executives have locked horns over much of Tarantino’s script, however, with executives noting particular concern about scenes in which toddler Ewoks run wild and urinate in the aisles during Ewok theatrical performances, a sequence concerning Ewok prostitution, a “fashion show” in which Ewoks model increasingly ornate and ridiculous Jedi costumes, and a narratively unnecessary—though haunting—final sequence in which an Ewok speeder bike gang clad in garish colored leather cruises slowly through the forest at night, headed nowhere in particular.
“Word from the set is that actors are mostly improvising their scenes. The film is either a complete disaster or a strong contender for Best Picture.”
Disney executives are in a race to blame each other for greenlighting this visionary, Robert Altman-inspired Star Wars project that follows more than two dozen characters involved in the Death-Star-construction industry. The three-hour film includes seven overlapping storylines, more than an hour of musical numbers, and drifts from situation to situation as the audience watches characters attempt to climb the ladder of Imperial hierarchy amid shifting politics and the interventions of opportunistic businessmen. In the film’s final sequence, all of the characters come together at a rally in the Death Star’s docking bay before a scheduled appearance by Darth Vader, which takes a tragic turn when a blaster fight occurs as deranged rebels attempt escape. Word from the set is that actors are mostly improvising their scenes, and studio executives have been horrified by supposedly-finished sequences in which dialogue overlaps or drifts into inaudible chatter as characters wander into or out of frame in confusing Imperial parties and clubs. The film is either a complete disaster or, as a few insiders have suggested, a strong contender for Best Picture.
My Dinner With Maz
Test audiences have given shockingly low marks to this visionary, film-geek-friendly film that concerns a conversation between Maz Kanata and Rey over a long dinner. In the first half of the film, Maz describes experimental theater experiences she had with a troupe working in the forest on Endor, a mind-expanding visit to Yoda in Dagobah, time spent working on a play in the desert on Tattooine, and a performance art piece she did in Mos Eisley entitled “Yes, I Bet You Would,” in which she had Han Solo shoot her in the arm with a low-caliber blaster in front of an audience. Rey argues that living the way Maz does is not realistic for the vast majority of sentient life forms in the galaxy, and that there is pleasure to be had in a life of safer, more conventional scavenging. Maz claims that everyday life amid the never-ending conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion is already a deformed, alienating existence in which insane events regularly occur but go unacknowledged by the general galactic population. Neither Maz nor Rey seems persuaded by the other, and the film ends with Rey going home, where she tells Finn about her dinner with Maz as Erik Satie plays softly in the background. At a studio screening, some executives threw things at the screen, while others, deeply moved, wept and pledged to change their lives. All agreed, however, that the film requires reshoots in which Maz slips Rey the plans to a Death Star or Death-Star-like construction.