Prior to release, one of the biggest mysteries about this weekend's new release Rogue One regarded the extensive re-shoots it received.
Speculation runs rampant whenever reports surface about re-shoots on an upcoming movie. It's generally assumed that re-shoots indicate that the movie is a disaster. However, nearly every big budget movie goes through re-shoots after the main production has wrapped. Usually, this means that the filmmakers made a rough cut of the film and weren't satisfied with certain things.
What sets Rogue One apart is just how extensive its reshoots were. It's common for trailers to contain alternate takes or deleted scenes, but the early trailers for Rogue One reveal a very different situation. There's enough to indicate that the climax and ending were altered significantly in the reshoots. Also, while the rebel leader Saw Gerrera is bald in the first teaser, he sports a full head of grizzled hair in the movie, suggesting that most of his role was reshot. Riz Ahmed, who plays a pilot named Bodhi in the film, has stated that his entire character was altered during production, resulting in a larger role.
There are various theories as to why the movie was altered so heavily after production. According to director Gareth Edwards, he and the producers weren't satisfied with the rough cut, and Disney increased their budget so they could make the alterations they felt were necessary. Considering that audiences seem to be most satisfied with the portions of the film that were evidently reworked, they probably made the right choice.
The intrigue around Rogue One's reshoots brings to mind similar reports regarding this summer's Suicide Squad. It was widely reported that the reshoots were intended to create a more humorous movie. While treated as fact, the reports were never any more than a rumor. According to Jai Courtney, who played the villain Boomerang, the reshoots were mainly focused on action scenes. Like Rogue One, footage from the trailer suggests there were major alterations to the story.
Apparently, some of the missing footage was from a subplot that was removed from the film that would've seen the Joker taking on a more antagonistic role toward the end of the movie. Jared Leto, who played the Joker, has even suggested that a feature length film could be made from his deleted scenes. While a few of the characters, most notably Harley Quinn and Deadshot, were generally received well, one of the common complaints was that the Joker was hyped in the marketing but almost irrelevant in the actual movie. At some point, a decision was made to portray the Joker's treatment of Harley Quinn as loving rather than abusive, which required his main role in the story to be removed.
While Rogue One has been generally received positively, it seems that some of the complaints regarding Suicide Squad were the direct result of the reshoots. Major reshoots are not an ideal part of filmmaking, and will inevitably result in some peculiarities in the finished film, but audiences should be careful to assume they reflect negatively on the film. Reshoots won't always help, but it takes more commitment to try to fix a film's problems than to simply leave it as it.