It's really starting to feel like, one day, we're going to get an immensely detailed documentary film tracking all of the changes that came between the script and release stages of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It's nothing new for a major blockbuster to go through lots of rewrites and reshoots, but this film seems to have had more than its fair share, and we're learning even more about them thanks to the upcoming home media release.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Gary Whitta revealed a number of ways in which his original script for the film differs from the final version (in the end, he got a story credit after rewrites by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy). Yesterday, we heard about the original ending he had planned for Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, and now we know that he also had other plans for the Death Star program's director, the ruthless Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn).
In the final film, Krennic dies when Tarkin enacts a scorched earth policy on Scarif, ordering the Death Star to fire on the surface in the hope of containing the damage from the Rebellion's efforts to steal the battle station's plans. It's a clean, definitive end to the character, but according to Whitta, his version of the finale made Krennic an unlikely survivor who was later found by an Imperial salvage crew.
“They tore him out of the rubble and they brought him back,” Whitta said. “When they’re going over the ruins, he somehow survived.”
So, why did this change? Well, the idea that the partial Death Star blast would leave survivors felt like "a bit of a reach," which is probably putting it mildly, and so the changes were made.
Surviving on Scarif did not mean an end to trouble for Krennic, though. He was still supposed to die in the film, but in Whitta's version his end came courtesy of Darth Vader, who after partially Force choking him earlier in the film, finished the job when his disappointing underling was brought before him, battered but alive, after the Battle of Scarif.
The image of Vader Force choking Krennic to death would have been another nice visual tie-in to the original trilogy, but getting Krennic to that place in the film was ultimately too implausible. And personally, I find the idea of Krennic being killed by his own monstrous creation to be more poetic anyway. We can debate a lot of the Rogue One story changes, but this feels like one of the better ones.