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Both the trailers and the majority of the movie left me with the impression that I was going to be watching a Star Wars heist film. We had the secure enemy facility, the dysfunctional team, the high-value item that needed to be stolen, all the classic heist tropes... and then somewhere in Act 3, things took a hard left and suddenly I'm watching a Star Wars D-Day movie, which was very disappointing because what I paid for a ticket to see was a heist film!

Has anyone involved with the production talked about the sudden and unexpected tone shift late in the movie, and why things ended up going in that direction?

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    well, if you remember what leia said in episode 4, we knew ahead of time that those that retrieved the plans gave their lives to get them. I also knew that the empire wouldn't let it just happen, so it was going to be a blood bath. – DForck42 Feb 7 '17 at 21:32
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    For abrupt tone shift...see From Dusk Til Dawn...now that's abrupt.! – Paulie_D Feb 7 '17 at 21:57
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I don't know about abrupt shift...it was flagged up well in advance that many people died trying to obtain the plans of the Death Star. It's mentioned in Episode 4.

However, the original plan wasn't to have everyone die...because they didn't think they would be allowed to go that 'dark'...but it was soon decided that they should.

Gareth Edwards via IO9.com

Speaking with Empire, Edwards was asked if the end of the film—where all of the main characters die—was always the end of the film. It wasn’t. Here’s his response:

The very first version, they didn’t [die]. In the screenplay. And it was just assumed by us that we couldn’t do that. ‘They’re not going to let us do that.’ So I was trying to figure out how this ends where that doesn’t happen. And then everyone read that and there was this feeling of like, ‘They’ve got to die, right?’ And everyone was like, ‘Yeah, can we?’

We thought we weren’t going to be allowed to but Kathy [Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm] and everyone at Disney were like ‘Yeah it makes sense/ I guess they have to because they’re not in A New Hope.’ And so from that point on we had the license.

I kept waiting for someone to go, ‘You know what? Could we just film an extra scene where we see Jyn and Cassian, they’re okay and they’re on another planet?’ And it never came. No one ever gave us that note, so we got to do it.

It is a heist movie essentially, a heroic one, they get the information out...it's just that they don't get away with it.

  • Technically the Rebels as a whole do get away with it. – JAB Feb 8 '17 at 17:36
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It was a heist movie, but it was established, decades ago, in the original Star Wars movie, that the brave rebels gave their lives to achieve the heist.

To alter that outcome would be a cop-out of monumental proportions.

Also, it allows the series of movies to have some offerings with a bit of a grittier edge to it, which would appeal to a different set of fans.

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