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For much of 2016, there were concerns from Star Wars fans about how the final version of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would look following the reshoots over that summer. Fast-forward to December, Rogue One proved to be a critical and commercial success, but it was clear for those who carefully studied the trailers and other previews that certain moments had been altered or cut entirely. One of the changed moments was the movie's ending, which included Jyn Erso and her Rebel allies running across a beach on Scarif. Director Gareth Edwards has finally revealed the main reason why that original ending was changed to what was shown in theaters, citing that it was primarily driven by compression. He explained:
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.
If you go back and watch the Rogue One teaser trailer that was released on April 7, 2016, you'll see the moment that Gareth Edwards is talking about, where Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and some of the fellow Rebels are charging across that beach, presumably with Death Star plans in their possession, and trying to avoid being hit by the Imperial walkers in their path. To cut down some of the movie's running time, Edwards and his crew opted to simply combine the two Imperial locations on Scarif into one so that there wouldn't be a need for these characters to have to book it from one area to the other.
Gareth Edwards added in his interview with Slashfilm that this decision proved wise in terms of Rogue One not "outstaying its welcome," as it was important to the director that this wasn't one of those movies where people would look at their watches and wonder when it would be over. As for whether we'll ever see this alternate ending, Edwards said he doesn't think there any plans for such a release, though he also noted that it's a decision "way above him." It's already been confirmed that the Rogue One home media release won't include any deleted scenes.
You can watch Rogue One in the comfort of your humble abode starting on March 24 with the Digital HD release, and the Blu-ray/DVD release will follow on April 4.