In Brief

Star Wars: Rogue One – Felicity Jones 'to return for sequel', Screen Rant says

Entertainment website reports the Rebellion is continuing - but fans should be a little sceptical

Rogue One: Spin-off film will not have classic Star Wars opening crawl

4 November

Disney's first Star Wars spin-off film will deviate from the traditions of the saga in many ways, including omitting the classic "opening crawl" of text that has set the scene for all the films to date.

The news comes from one of the more reputable fan sites, Star Wars News Net, which said on Twitter yesterday that the film will begin in a different way.

Many fans reacted with dismay.

Others, though, were more sanguine about the news:

The rumour led fans to speculate about what other traditional components of the Star Wars franchise will be jettisoned with the new film. On Reddit's Star Wars speculation thread, user RaisyDidley wondered whether the film will still start with: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

Another Redditor, MrCavDaddy, points out that from the details revealed so far, "this movie gonna be a Rogue One."

The UK release date for Rogue One: A Star Wars story is 15 December.

Star Wars Rogue One: New theory emerges about how film will end

31 October

Disney's first Star Wars spin-off film may end with an appearance from Princess Leia and possibly a hint about the future of new heroine Jyn Erso.

A video posted by YouTuber Mike Zeroh says there has been considerable speculation about the appearance of Carrie Fisher's iconic character in the upcoming film, but he thinks any cameo from her will be relatively fleeting.

"I think that if Leia is to be in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to show fans how this is really tying into [Star Wars 4] A New Hope, I think that it would be from a profile shot or a shot from the back of her in her traditional white outfit."

According to Zeroh, R2-D2 will be seen at the end of the film receiving the stolen plans for the Death Star. The picture will then end with a view of the Tantive IV space ship attempting to outrun Imperial Star Destroyer – linking directly to the opening sequence of the first ever Star Wars film, A New Hope.

The theory could be significant, says Zeroh, because it will help clarify when Rogue One is set and how it connects to the main timeline of the original trilogy of films.

Alternatively, he suggests, the film may end with a hint about Jyn Erso's fate.

Rogue One's UK release date is 16 December.

Star Wars Rogue One: Director lets slip another returning character

27 October

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards has set the internet alight with speculation after appearing to accidentally reveal the return of another character from the series in an interview with USA Today.

The character in question is Grand Moff Tarkin, the Imperial governor whose "foul stench" Princess Leia recognised when she was taken on the Death Star in the original series.

Edwards was discussing Ben Mendelsohn's character Orson Krennic with the US newspaper, calling him a "working-class" figure who has ascended the ranks of the Empire but antagonises his superiors.

"[Krennic] hits a brick wall in the hierarchy where they won't let him in the club and it's going to turn into a them-or-us situation: either Krennic or Tarkin and the others," he said.

While "this might sound like a purely hypothetical situation", says GamesRadar's Sam Prell, "there's a moment around 1.20 in the second Rogue One trailer that shows an Imperial officer with a head shape and hairline resembling Tarkin's moving toward Krennic."

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In Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, Tarkin was played by Peter Cushing, who died in 1994. Wayne Pygram took on the role for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

The villain's return alongside Darth Vader would be an exciting proposition – but will he be the last familiar face of the Empire in the new film?

"So we've got Vader, Tarkin… anyone else wanna show up for this little reunion of the good ol' days?" asks Prell.

All will be revealed when Rogue One is released in the UK on 16 December.

Star Wars Rogue One: Is spin-off film an origin story for Rey's mother?    

20 October

Many Star Wars fans have bristled at the suggestion Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a spin-off, saying its events have a direct impact on the main saga.

Aside from altering the course of the Rebel Alliance's conflict with the evil Galactic Empire, some believe the film may come to have even more direct significance on the main series, possibly even introducing audiences to the wife of Luke Skywalker and the mother of The Force Awakens' heroine, Rey.

According to Reddit user Jonah Hemingway, "one day we will look back and see the movie unfold as an origin story for Rey's mother" – Jyn Erso.

Hemingway argues the score in the second trailer is a major hint that Rogue One will connect Erso directly with Luke, who many fans believe to be Rey's father.

The trailer features variations on composer John Williams' Force Theme, which doubles throughout the long-running space opera as Luke's music, the Redditor says. 

Not everyone agrees, however. "I'll bet you five bucks Jyn is not Rey's mother," says one user. Another says the connection is unlikely considering Jyn is at least 15 years Luke's senior.

All will be revealed when Rogue One is released in the UK on 16 December.

Star Wars: Rogue One fans anticipate cameos from R2-D2, Leia and Darth Vader

18 October

Disney's first Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One, goes on general release in just under two months' time. While it hasn't been preceded by the same marketing campaign as its predecessor, 2015's The Force Awakens, the film is still a source of great excitement for many fans of the long-running space saga.

One of the questions of greatest interest to Star Wars enthusiasts is how director Gareth Edwards will manage to connect the movie to the original trilogy of films that were made by George Lucas in the late Seventies and early Eighties.

The leading theory about how he will make the film sit seamlessly within the Star Wars universe is by including cameos from the early films. So who is likely to show up? Here is what fans believe:

1) Darth Vader. It's no longer a secret that Vader will show up in Rogue One. He has made two fleeting appearances in the film's official trailers, but fans believe he may have a bigger role in the picture, directing the film's new lead villain Orson Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn).

2) Princes Leia. If the former princess turned military general does turn up, it will have to be done using cinematic trickery, either by splicing in offcuts of Carrie Fischer performing the role in her early twenties, or through CGI, or potentially by recasting the role altogether.

3) Bail Organa. Princess Leia's adoptive father and a friend of Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, Organa is one of the founders of the rebel alliance, according to Star Wars Wikipedia. Fans have seen glimpses of the character in trailers for Rogue One, so it is fairly certain he will feature in the film.

4) R2-D2. Fans may be confident that the droid will make an appearance in Rogue One at some point, given that he has appeared in every other Star Wars picture to date. But as yet the character, formerly played by the late English actor Kenny Baker, has not been seen in any of the film's promotional material.

5) Members of Red and Gold squadrons. According to fans on the Reddit Star Wars Speculation forum, it is likely that we will get "some, if not all, of these pilots during the Battle of Yavin." Porkins, Wedge, Biggs and Garven Dreis – names that may not be familiar to casual fans of the series, but well-known to true obsessives – may all turn up. "This movie is happening right before the destruction of Alderaan, these pilots should be active within the rebellion at this point in time," says Redditor DJ41.

All will be revealed when Rogue One is released on 16 December.

Star Wars Rogue One: Watch the new trailer featuring Darth Vader

13 October

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Anticipation is building for the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film after a brand-new trailer and poster were released featuring Felicity Jones's Jyn Erso at the heart of the action - and Darth Vader lurking in the background.

The spin-off, directed by Gareth Edwards, is set shortly before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and tells a heist-style story featuring a group of Rebel spies on a mission to undermine the Empire's new weapon, the Death Star. 

Jones (The Theory of Everything, Inferno) stars as the troubled and impetuous loner Jyn, recruited by the Rebel Alliance to work with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to steal the Death Star plans.

Ben Mendelsohn plays military officer Orson Krennic, Donnie Yen is a spiritual warrior and Riz Ahmed plays a defecting Imperial pilot.

Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen, who will also appear in Marvel's Dr Strange, stars as Jyn's distant father.

The new poster features Jyn at the centre of things, but looming behind her is the shadow of Darth Vader. Fans have known for some time that the iconic villain would appear in the new film, although Disney has released few clues about the storyline.

As the image appears to tie Jyn and Vader more closely together, it seems he will be the nemesis she must face on her mission.

Cassian Orson join the two on the poster, along with K-S2O (Alan Tudyk), Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) and Bodhi Rook (Ahmed).

Below them is a scene from the battle at Scarif, the principle construction facility for the Death Star. It shows Stormtroopers and Imperial Walkers wading in a blue-water paradise while fighter craft streak overhead.

The new Rogue One trailer – the second released - debuted on Good Morning America today. Its predecessor dropped in August.

Like the first trailer, today's footage reminds us that Jyn, while also battling her own demons, has to muster all her resources and the loyalty of the other Rebels against the formidable powers of the Empire - and in particular the obsessive Orson Krennic.

The shadow of Darth Vader haunts the film and reminds us of one of the many themes of the Star Wars: how children cope with the sins of their fathers.

In Rogue One, we are told Jyn has been out on her own since she was 15 – so what happened to her dad? Was he captured by the Empire? Did Jyn run away from home? Does Jyn even know he’s alive?

All these questions and more will be answered when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in cinemas on 16 December.

Star Wars: Rogue One – Who are Disney's new characters?

29 September

When the seventh instalment of the Star Wars series hit cinemas last year, fans were introduced to a new cast of characters, including powerful new heroine Rey, disenchanted Stormtrooper Finn and intriguing new villain Kylo Ren.

Now Disney is gearing up to add a new group of characters in its first ever spin-off from the sci-fi saga, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, including four whose brief biographies have just been announced.

"It isn't clear what is on screen and what is backstory information but it is fun and informative none the less," says fan site MakingStarWars.

Here are the four latest additions to the ever-expanding Star Wars universe.

Name: MoroffSpecies: GigoranDescription: Moroff seeks out combat zones to sell his brawn and firepower to anyone who might need it. The mighty Gigoran mercenary figures there’s money to be made for a towering heavy gunner.

Name: Rebel Commando PaoSpecies: DrabataDescription: An amphibious Drabata, fierce commando Pao charges into battle with a full-throated battle cry of “Sa’Kalla”. He joins the Rogue One team on its historic mission to secure the Death Star plans.

Name: Scarif Stormtrooper CommanderTrooper Class: StormtrooperDescription: Specialist stormtroopers stationed at the top-secret Imperial Military headquarters on Skarif, Shoretroopers patrol the beaches and bunkers of the planetary facility.

Name: Hovertank DriverTrooper class: StormtrooperDescription: Imperial combat drivers operate the Empire’s arsenal of armoured repulsor vehicles. Combat drivers are highly armoured, relying on the thick skin of their vehicles to protect them in the battle.

In other Rogue One news, the final trailer's release date was revealed during the Kino Expo International, a Russian film festival held in St Petersburg this month.

Elena Brodskaya, the marketing director of the Russian subdivision of Walt Disney, disclosed the titbit during a presentation.

Talking about some of the company's future film, including the upcoming adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, she said they would be keeping details about Rogue One under wraps – at least until the final trailer comes out when Marvel's Doctor Strange hits cinemas in Russia on 28 October and the US on 4 November.

But while Rogue One is just weeks away now, fans don't seem to be "clutching it to their breasts with anything like the level of gusto that welled up months before The Force Awakens actually arrived in multiplexes", says Ben Child in The Guardian.

Lamenting the filmmakers' decision to do away with the main characters from The Force Awakens and focus on a new group, Child adds: "Star Wars without the Skywalkers and Solos is like Batman without Bruce Wayne, Harry Potter without Ron and Hermione, James Bond without M and Moneypenny."

After Star Wars: Rogue One, Disney confirms new spin-off film – what will it be about?

23 September

Disney has confirmed a third standalone Star Wars film for 2020, reports CNet.

The standalone series, which begins in December with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will reach its third instalment in 2020 – 43 years after the original Star Wars blockbuster first hit the big screens.

Disney chief executive Bob Iger said he's heard the pitch from the writer working on 2019's Star Wars Episode 9 and revealed that a writer has been hired to work on the previously unannounced 2020 release.

But what will the film be about? Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams has hinted at a Knights of Ren movie, revealing the backstory of Episode 7 villain Kylo Ren's squadron of dark side disciples.

The Guardian speculates such a film could cover young Ben Solo's conversion from trainee Jedi to proto-Sith Kylo Ren. Star Wars watchers have also suggested an Obi-Wan Kenobi film and wondered if a Yoda yarn could be on the cards.

Speculation has circled for some years that a film will be about Boba Fett, set during the timeline of the original trilogy. As the character has never been seen without his helmet, casting would be a simple task.

But, as the Guardian says, "you have to wonder quite how a character who… appears to have all the personality of those dodgy blokes from the Trade Federation, is suddenly going to morph into a charismatic, all-action antihero type capable of lighting up his own space adventure".

There could also be a young Princess Leia adventure featuring "a twentysomething version of the spunky space princess, long before she became too embroiled in galactic politics to get busy with a good old blaster".

Star Wars: Rogue One is an experiment, says Disney

22 September

Disney chief executive Bob Iger says the first Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, may not make as much money as its predecessor, The Force Awakens.

"We never felt it would do the level that Force Awakens did," he told a conference in New York.

The Force Awakens made nearly $2.1bn (£1.6bn) worldwide to become the third-highest grossing film in history. 

In contrast, said Iger, Rogue One was "an experiment, of sorts" and the company was excited to see how it performed.

Based on the public response to trailers and posters, "the level of interest is as high as it was for Force Awakens", he added.

Iger also denied claims the first showing of Rogue One had been poorly received by studio bosses, despite extensive reshoots being ordered and the musical composer being replaced.

"We've loved what we've seen," said Iger.

The businessman is credited with having set Disney on a hugely profitable trajectory during his time at the helm of the company, first by ditching Miramax and Touchstone and then by focusing on branded franchise films - a strategy he said had proven "phenomenal".

When he first became chief executive, he said, the money being made by the whole cinematic industry was "not impressive... Too many movies were being made, too many bets being made, too much money being spent."

Instead, "his theory was fewer but even bigger bets, hence the purchases of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm", says the Hollywood Reporter.

Star Wars Rogue One: Will Darth Vader kill Orson Krennic?

23 August

New Star Wars, new baddie. Disney's first spin-off film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, looks set to follow in the footsteps of Star Wars 4: A New Hope and Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens by introducing a new villain. This time it is the menacing-looking Death Star security director, Orson Krennic.

Played by Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, Krennic is charged with keeping the Death Star, the evil Empire's devastating new weapon, safe from Rebel attacks while its construction is completed, Wookiepedia says.

He is also in direct command of a new type of Stormtrooper – the black-clad Deathtroopers, who hunt down and kill Rebel forces.

But fans are already speculating whether Krennic will make it out of the film alive - and whether his death could come at the hands of Star Wars's respiratorily challenged supervillain, Darth Vader.

"Since Rogue One is one of the self-contained spinoff movies, that may indicate that Orson Krennic won't make it out of the movie alive," says CinemaBlend. "Whether he meets his end from a Rebel blaster, is Force choked by Darth Vader or manages to go underground, we'll have to wait and see, but as far as Rogue One is concerned, Jyn Erso and the rest of her allies will need to watch out for Orson Krennic and his troops."

Meanwhile, fresh information about one of Rogue One's other characters has emerged after voice and motion-capture actor Alan Tudyk opened up about what it was like to play the film's new droid.

Tudyk is already familiar to film buffs for his roles as Hoban "Wash" Washburne in Joss Whedon's cult TV series Firefly and subsequent film Serenity, as well as the web series he stars in, writes, and directs called Con Man.

Now he will play K-2SO, or "Kaytoo", a role requiring him to don a motion-capture suit and stilts designed by Industrial Light & Magic.

Tudyk told StarWars.com how he had met Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy and also had to wear an uncomfortable costume. Daniels had a "colourful reaction" to the motion capture news, Cnet reports.

"He said, 'You [expletive]!'" said Tudyk, laughing. "That was his response because he was envious of the comfort level he knew I had wearing a Spandex bodysuit versus a practical costume – which, by the way, he still fits into."

Tudyk also revealed Kaytoo was formerly an Imperial droid whose memory is wiped when he meets Cassian, played by Diego Luna.

"Through that process, Kaytoo's personality changes," Tudyk said. "I approached it as if he were freed, almost like a governor on an engine that holds the personality back. When he is reprogrammed, his personality comes out, which is a bit odd."

The new droid will be fully unveiled when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits UK cinemas on 16 December.

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