Rogue One began life as a concept for the live-action Star Wars TV series

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story John Knoll Felicity Jones

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY originated as an idea from Industrial Light & Magic's chief creative officer John Knoll, who thought that the story of how the Rebels stole the plans to the Death Star would make for an exciting movie. However, the seeds of ROGUE ONE were actually planted further back than I had realized, to when George Lucas was still in the midst of shooting STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH.

It was during this time when John Knoll discovered that Lucasfilm had begun developing a potential live-action STAR WARS TV series and were busy crafting stories. Knoll began thinking about what would be a fun thing to do for an episode of the show, and he told CBR that it was then that he began to put the pieces for ROGUE ONE together. Unfortunately, once he learned more about the potential series from Rick McCallum, he realized that this MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-style story wouldn't be a good fit.

One thought was, “What about a ‘Mission Impossible’-style break-in into the most secure facility in the Empire to steal the Death Star plans? There could be a lot of tension of potentially being discovered and overcoming security measures. That could be a lot of fun!” I started tinkering with this idea internally. Then a day or two later, I asked Rick [McCallum], I heard you were developing this TV show. He started telling me about the era that it takes place in, and the themes of the show. As soon as he started going into that, I realized, actually, that idea has no place in that show, so I just dropped it completely.

It wasn’t until Kathy [Kennedy] announced this new slate of “Star Wars” films that, in addition to “VII,” “VIII” and “IX” that would be continuing the saga, that she also wanted to do these standalone adventure stories: stories that took place in the “Star Wars” universe but weren’t necessarily connected to that through-line. A lot of us were really intrigued by it. “That sounds like fun.” I thought that idea of the mission to steal the Death Star plans, telling that story could make a pretty good standalone feature as well.

After informally pitching the idea to several friends, Knoll began putting more thought into the characters and plot and wound up with a twenty minute pitch which he thought was quite exciting. After realizing that he would always wonder what would have happened if he didn't pitch the story, he made an appointment with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

So I made the appointment, and I did the pitch to Kathy and Kiri Hart, who’s head of story [at Lucasfilm]. At the end — they listened to the whole thing very politely, and at the end, Kathy said, “All right, well, thank you.” So I got up and left. I didn’t hear anything for a little while. I thought, “All right, well, okay, I did it. I’m not going to wonder.” About a week after, I got an email from Kiri: “We talked about this a lot, and we may want to do something with this.” Then it snowballed into this.

As for the live-action STAR WARS TV series, which went by the working title of Star Wars: Underworld, it would have put the focus on "the criminals and the gangs" of the Star Wars universe. In 2012, Rick McCallum told IGN that they had 50 "unbelievable" scripts which contained the "most provocative, the most bold and daring material that we've ever done." Once Disney acquired Lucasfilm, the plans for Star Wars: Underworld appeared to have stalled, but Kathleen Kennedy told /Film in 2015 that they were still looking through the material for Underworld, as well as the Star Wars 1313 video-game, and may "very well develop those things further" down the line.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is now available on Blu-ray/DVD.

Source: CBR



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