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It's a brave new world out there for blockbuster filmmaking, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story seems to have led the charge. The latest Star Wars film broke new ground with its use of old footage from A New Hope in its battle sequences, and it has raised questions about whether or not the same methods could one day work on movies like The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi for future Star Wars standalone films. I recently had the opportunity to ask Rogue One editor John Gilroy about this possibility, and he seemed to think that the latest Star Wars was a particularly unique occasion for this technique. He explained:
What you could do is what they did with Tarkin, where you're literally resurrecting someone, but that's always very challenging to do. That's very hard to do. Things like that could happen, but I'm sure they have a price tag, too.
During our conversation, John Gilroy explained that Rogue One was uniquely positioned within the Star Wars mythos to utilize the old footage from A New Hope. It became logistically possible to use characters like Red Leader and Gold Leader in some of Rogue One's sequences because of the way in which the film neatly tied into A New Hope. That particular opportunity may not present itself very often in future movies. He acknowledged that it could technically be possible somewhere down the line, but the odds of it becoming a widespread practice in the very near future seem remote.
On the other hand, John Gilroy seemed more convinced that the CGI resurrection technique used on characters like Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia could become more widely utilized as time goes by. As CGI technology seems to get better with each passing year, this may be a smarter option that attempting to restore decades-old footage. All of these technical are challenging and limited by technology, but some are harder than others to pull off.
As technology continues to advance in unexpected ways, we may see new filmmaking methods like this become more and more viable. If that so-called "price tag" goes down in the future, then it's entirely possible that we could see new action sequences taking place concurrently with the Battle of Hoth or the battle against the second Death Star. John Gilroy hasn't necessarily ruled it out, so neither should we.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is currently in theaters.