Remember that first teaser for Rogue One? It had a lot of cool shots in it: Jyn walking into the hanger bay on Yavin IV, her declaration that she rebels and that iconic shot of her in her Imperial disguise? None of those were in the final cut of the film.
Spoilers ahead for Rogue One.
A couple of months after that first trailer came out, word broke that Disney was bringing on Tony Gilroy (who wrote the films in Matt Damon’s Bourne series and directed Michael Clayton and The Bourne Legacy) was being brought on to help fix the film and redirect some new scenes. Reshoots aren’t unheard of for films, but this fueled speculation that the film was in trouble.
Taking a look at the older trailers and comparing them against the final product gives us a good indication as to what changed.
Much of that first trailer features scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut
Much of that first trailer features shots that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film: an imposing picture of Director Krennic with a gun; Saw Gerrara stepping toward the camera; shackled Rebel pilots walking through what looks like Jedha; Jyn, Cassian, and K-2S0 running through the imperial station on Scarif; Krennic walking past a bunch of dead troopers.
This wasn’t limited to just the teaser trailer either: the first trailer also featured a number of changes, from altered dialogue, to other big scenes such as Jyn facing down a TIE Fighter on the top of the tower. The second full trailer also had some dialogue that was changed, Krennic telling Vader about the power of the Death Star and Chirrut Îmwe’s line “take hold of this moment” also don’t appear in the final cut. The scenes that we saw with Jyn running on the beach with the plans to the Death Star? Totally not there.
In the lead-up to Rogue One’s release, Gareth Edwards addressed the reshoots, saying that the changes were due to incremental improvements, and that Disney provided a number of resources to reshoot parts of the film.
From the looks of it, there were a lot of changes, and not small ones
From the looks of it, there was a lot changed, and not just small takes that could have been done better the first time around, or scenes that were trimmed down during the final round of editing. The earlier footage seems to show Jyn being recruited to the Rebellion, rather than being used as a way to get in the door with Saw Gerrera, while the scenes on the beach suggest that the Death Star plans were extracted from Scarif in a far different fashion.
Now that we’ve seen the final film, it’s interesting to see what didn’t appear in theaters: a number of scenes or lines that were set up to be iconic were left on the cutting room floor, and potentially some changes to how the story ended. It’s impossible to say if that earlier edition might have been better or worse than what turned up in theaters, but undoubtably, there will be plenty of speculation for years to come.