It's been well-documented that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story underwent some major reshoots to retool its big finale, and now we finally know why.
Director Gareth Edwards opened up to /Film about the editing process and what led them to rework the ending. Put simply: It was too darn long, so they compressed the events of the third act to chop off several minutes of big action scenes (many of which can still be seen in the trailers for the film). As has been rumored, the original transmission station was not in the same building as the main Scarif base, and there was a whole action scene with Cassian and Jyn that wound up on the cutting-room floor.
Here's an excerpt from his comments:
"I think the main thing that changed at the end … what used to happen, and you can get a sense of this in the early trailers, the transmission tower for the plans was separate from the main base on Scarif. To transmit the plans, they had to escape and run along the beach and go up the tower. In cutting the film, it just felt too long. We had to find ways to compress the third act, which was quite long as it was. And one real, fast, brutal solution was to put the tower in the base, so they don't have to run across the beach and do all of that stuff to get there. That became a decision that eliminated the shots you see in the trailer of the back of Cassian and Jyn and the AT-ATs. That was some of the reinvention that happened. It was all to do with compression.
"As cool as many things are, and they really are, you can't outstay your welcome. We've all done it. We've all sat in a movie and even if you love a film, there's that moment where you want to look at your watch, or you feel like 'Okay, I hope it ends soon.' You don't want the audience thinking that. You don't want them to lag. If you feel that when you watch something back, you need to find a way to tighten it somewhere. That was a big win for a compression."
Edwards said he doesn't believe there's any plan to release those unused scenes as part of an extended cut, which makes sense, because that much retooling means there'd almost certainly be some missing scenes that would make it disjointed if you tried to add those set pieces back in and move the action to a different location.
Do you think Edwards made the right call? Was Rogue One bordering on being too long?