One of the biggest departures from Star Wars tradition that was taken by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the lack of an opening crawl to set the stage for the movie to come. However, even though we didn’t see one in the final movie, we did find out that there was once an opening crawl that was part of the original draft of the script.
The existence of a Rogue One opening crawl was further confirmed just a few days ago when director Gareth Edwards confirmed in a Reddit AMA that Gary Whitta wrote one in the first draft of the script. But he said that we would have to bug him to find out what it entailed. Thankfully, someone was able to follow up with the writer, and now we have some clarification on the matter.
UPDATE: Apparently writer Gary Whitta’s memory isn’t what it used to be. It turns out the Rogue One opening crawl did exist in the first draft of the script, but was removed when he did revisions. He reached out to us on Twitter to clarify his previous comments. In addition, we got some brief details about what that opening crawl entailed. Our original story follows, and you can find the update with details on the opening crawl after the jump.
io9 spoke to Gary Whitta not long after Gareth Edwards gave everyone that trailer to follow, and Whitta clarified, “It was never actually in a draft of the script. It's just in a document, like a story document that I wrote.” Then he went on to explain how the discussion about the opening crawl (and some of the other traditional elements of Star Wars) went behind the scenes
"Literally in the very first days working on the film we were asking ourselves those questions. Like 'What makes these :standalones different? Do they have opening crawls? Do they have John Williams music? Do they have all the same furniture and trappings? Do you do the Kurosawa wipes? Or do find your own language?'
Initially Gareth, a hardcore Star Wars fan, was like 'You've gotta have an opening crawl.' We wanted to have all the things we grew up with. And so as an experiment, purely because it was fun to try and write one, I wrote one. But it was never in a script. It was never actually in a draft."
It’s likely we’ll never see that opening crawl, but even if we did, it would only offer insight into an entirely different version of the movie. There were some drastic changes made to the story that Gary Whitta wrote, as well as the first draft of the script, when Chris Weitz was brought in to write a second draft. There were characters in the final movie that weren’t even part of Whitta’s original draft, including the favorite duo Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus.
In the end, Whitta thnks that Rogue One is better without an opening crawl anyway:
As we started to embrace the idea more and more that these films were going to be different, and they didn't have to be beholden to all the same laws as the original films, we were like, 'You know? We're better off without it.' And I understand there are some people out there that really want things the way they want them, and they're upset there isn't an crawl. But I feel like it was a really great way to make the bold statement at the very beginning, literally the very first frame of the film: this is not like the Star Wars films you've seen before.
As we’ve mentioned before, the opening crawl would have had a somewhat difficult time setting the stage when you consider the fact that the first sequence takes place roughly 15 years before the events that follow in the rest of the film. So much time passes between the opening scene and the rest of the movie that the opening crawl wouldn’t really be able to tell us anything that helps set up the movie like the rest of the Star Wars saga installments.
UPDATE: For those curious, a reader reached out to us with details from an appearance Gary Whitta made at the Salt Lake City Comic Con FanX this past weekend. Whitta wouldn’t give any specific details about the content of the opening crawl, but he did reveal that in addition to having three paragraphs that end with ellipses as you would expect, it did have the exact same word count as the opening crawl from A New Hope.
We’ll have more on Rogue One soon as the press heats up for the film’s digital release on March 24 followed by the Blu-ray and DVD release on April 4.
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