While Disney and LucasFilm's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story couldn't break Star Wars: The Force Awakens' opening weekend box office record, it did make history in a few other ways. For one, this is the first live-action Star Wars movie since 1984's The Ewok Adventure and 1985's Ewok: The Battle for Endor that doesn't feature a score by John Williams, with Michael Giacchino taking over the composing duties on Rogue One. And it is also the first Star Wars movie since those Ewok spin-offs that doesn't begin with the iconic opening crawl, which immediately transports viewers to "a galaxy far, far away." In fairness, the theatrical Star Wars: Clone Wars movie also ditched some of these elements. But it's important here, because it sets a precedence for the new Star Wars standalone movies moving forward. Instead of an opening crawl, director Gareth Edwards opted for an opening prologue, set 15 years before the story takes place. While most didn't seem to mind the absence of the opening crawl too much, the man who created it, Dan Perri, thinks it was "foolish" and a "mistake" to omit it.
Dan Perri spent months creating the opening crawl for the very first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, delivering it just a month before the release in May 1977. That crawl would go on to be used in all of the subsequent movies, with the crawl becoming just as iconic as the characters featured in these blockbuster movies. LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy hinted several months ago that there would not be a crawl, which was eventually confirmed just before the release of Rogue One, with Kathleen Kennedy revealing they want to save that element for the saga films. The Hollywood Reporter caught up to Dan Perri, who thinks it was a huge mistake to open Rogue One without the crawl.
"Frankly, it is a huge mistake, because the image is so iconic and it's so important to tens of millions, hundreds of millions of fans. I couldn't imagine it starting without that. It's foolish."
Before his work on Star Wars, Dan Perri designed the titles for Marathon Man, Taxi Driver and All the Presidents Men. His other credits include Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Warriors, Caddyshack, Raging Bull, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon and many more. Dan Perri also revealed he would have to drive out to George Lucas' office in Van Nuys, California, where all of his ideas would be rejected. Here's what Dan Perri had to say about his initial meetings with George Lucas.
"I had no idea what he was doing, so it was just this stupid space film. I didn't think anything of it. Everything I showed him, he didn't like. So I was constantly going out there with new ideas, and he would tell me to look at certain films. The Buck Rogers films and all the serials from the '30s that he was using for inspiration."
One of the films he watched while looking for inspiration was Cecil B. DeMille's 1939 film Union Pacific, starring Barbara Stanwyck, which featured the opening credits scrolling past a railroad track. Using that title design as an inspiration, he set out to create the crawl Star Wars fans came to know and love, but it didn't come that easy. Here's what Dan Perri had to say about what went into creating that crawl.
"He liked the idea, but then I had to start shooting and testing and setting type. I went through 20 or 30 or 40 different type styles before I settled on one. Once we did that, I shot tests for weeks and weeks and weeks. It was all on film. You shoot a test on black-and-white film and then it had to be developed the next day or late that day. I'd rush out to Van Nuys with it and wait for him for hours to show it to him and he never liked it, and it just went on and on and on. He accepted it and they cut it in. By then, it was only maybe a month before the release. The day I delivered it, it was such a relief to drive away from there knowing, 'Wow, it's done finally.'"
He added that George Lucas only took a few minutes to look at his design, since "he had so many things on his mind, he was so busy." Dan Perri still hasn't seen Rogue One, or any other Star Wars movie after the original, adding that his work on the crawl wasn't a fun time, but that he's pleased with the results. For die-hard fans of the crawl, that iconic element will surely return in Star Wars: Episode VIII, directed by Rian Johnson, which is set for release on December 15, 2017. Take a look at the opening credits for Union Pacific, along with the original crawl for A New Hope below. Be sure to check back throughout the week for more on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.