Much of the pre-release conversation about Star Wars spin-off Rogue One revolved around its many deleted scenes, after early trailers included footage, storylines and exciting sequences that never made it to the finished film.
So after hearing just how much was changed (and why) over the last few months, fans have been eager to see for themselves exactly what was left on the cutting room floor, while happily pondering what might have been had the film gone a different way.
However, it now seems like they may never get that chance – because director Gareth Edwards has revealed that the upcoming DVD release for Rogue One next month won’t feature any of these deleted moments, with an explanation that they’re just not long enough.
"There's not an individual scene that you can drag and drop and put on a Blu-ray,” he told Fandango. “There are little things that would come and go during the process of post-production, but they're not scenes. They're more moments within the scenes, or a single shot.
“So it's impossible to be able to do that, and that's why the decision was made. The stuff people talk about, like what they saw in the trailer, they're not scenes you can just put on a DVD. They're moments within scenes and threads, and you pull a thread and it all changes.
“It was changing the whole time. It's not like there was one version and then there was this other version, it was like this thing that incrementally evolved constantly through all of post-production and didn't stop until there was a gun at our heads and we were forced to release the movie."
Specifically addressing the now-famous shot of Jyn approaching the TIE fighter (above), which has no presence in the final film, he said:
"Yeah, [that shot is] going to have to remain a myth because it's sort of the thing where you're trying ideas out to find the right version of the movie, and at the same time marketing is getting excited about certain shots and moments. Eventually you'll see something presented to you and you'll be like, wait a minute, this shot is no longer in the film."
On the surface of it, this is just a disappointment that we’ll all have to move on from. But when we think about it more, this explanation doesn’t quite line up with what we already know about the deleted scenes.
Analysis from various quarters has shown that early trailers include completely different interpretations of key scenes in the movie, from Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her companions running on the beach with the Death Star plans (which they never did in the movie) to a complete change in appearance and dialogue for Forest Whitaker's Saw Gerrera.
Rogue One’s well-reported reshoots are said to have mainly revolved around reorganising such moments after early test screenings.
Just look at that shot of Jyn approaching the TIE fighter. The finished film has nothing related to that action at all (she instead sends rebel plans digitally from the tower she’s on and walks down to the beach), so some substantial footage much have been shot just to explain how and why that airborne exchange fitted into the overall narrative. And if these scenes were more than a second or two of action, why not include them, especially when they’re so notably different from the finished product?
Edwards’ response? That any longer scenes couldn’t be included anyway, because their visual effects were unfinished.
"The visual effects were never finished on [the alternate versions of the Scarif battle],” he said. “It's not like there's something sitting somewhere.
“I feel like making a film is like a sport where someone blows a whistle and that's it, the score is what it is. And the goal is to win. If I could go back and do the film knowing what I know now, the final film would be completely different. I'd probably be willing to make Star Wars for the next ten years and never let go of it, constantly trying to finesse and find new ideas. But at some point it stops, and it is the movie.”
Again, though, it’s not unusual for DVD deleted scenes to have unfinished effects – for example, one involving a landspeeder chase without completed CGI was included in The Force Awakens release just last year – so it may be that there’s a deeper reason for Disney and Lucasfilm’s decision to keep deleted scenes off the menu.
Gareth Edwards (centre) on the set of Rogue One
Instead, perhaps the real answer comes from the rumoured frustration the Rogue One filmmakers have had with the media focus on the reshot and deleted footage, with the lack of deleted scenes on the DVD one final attempt to stop the discussion. After all, why fan the flames when you don't HAVE to release anything?
Edwards himself seems to hint this a few times in the interview, repeatedly asserting that the finished film is the finished film, and a lack of desire to show off his process.
“The film that got released, I feel like that is the film, and everything else is just the process of making it,” he said.
In other words, our desire for deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes info might just have killed our chances for deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes info. To quote a certain Rogue One star…
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be released in UK cinemas on 15th December