Behind The Sound: Rogue One Composer Michael Giacchino.
Everyone knows we love great music and hope you do to. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on December 16th and will be the first live-action Star Wars movie to not have a score composed by the great John Williams. This task has been given to the much lesser-known, but still highly esteemed Michael Giacchino. So, who is this guy? Now granted, Rogue One is not a direct sequel, but nonetheless we should know a little something about the person stepping into this sacred arena.
Who Is Michael Giacchino?
First, this is not the first time another composer has taken over for a Williams-begun series. Jaws, Superman, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter are just a few of the film franchises that he helped build only to hand off later sequels to other composers. But, the Star Wars saga is certainly one of the most important of Mr. William’s illustrious career. Considering the legacy that has been built by the master over eight films thus far, finding someone with the technique, creativity and melodic sense to command this considerable vehicle is no small feat. Fortunately, we have to look no further than Michael Giacchino.
Second, not only is he “in bed” with Disney, having written music for the Space Mountain & Star Tours attractions across their theme parks, but he has scored many Disney film productions including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, John Carter, Tomorrowland and Inside Out. He also has some experience taking over for a Williams project, having recently completed the score for Jurassic World. This is important because Rogue One is the second film since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm for 4 BILLION dollars and I’m sure this helps them feel much more at ease to have someone in their fold be in charge of music for this December tent-pole. Let’s take a quick look at the history of this man who dares to carry the torch of the most successful composer in film history.
Michael Giacchino got his start writing video game music, with his first major assignment being the game adaptation for The Lost World: Jurassic Park. This was a notable game because it was the first video game to use a full orchestra on its soundtrack (at the request of Steven Spielberg, no less). He followed that up with the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty game series as well as scoring the popular J.J. Abrams television shows Alias and Lost. He burst onto the film scene in 2004 with the Pixar hit The Incredibles. From there, his film credits only grew as J.J. began directing features and others took notice of his skills. Giacchino developed quite the diverse portfolio by helming action flicks Mission Impossible: III & Ghost Protocol, the new Star Trek franchise, and Jurassic World, while still maintaining a lighter touch with Up, Inside Out and Zootopia. Let’s also not forget his more sci-fi oriented film scores for John Carter, Jupiter Ascending, Tomorrowland and most recently his first foray into the Marvel universe on Doctor Strange. Whichever way you slice it, he commands an immense spectrum of stylistic variety and is comfortable on the largest of projects. This bodes very well for Star Wars fans.
He also is a huge fan of Williams and the Star Wars franchise. When his long-time collaborator J.J. Abrams announced he would be directing The Force Awakens, many thought Michael would be doing the score. But after it was announced that Williams would be retained, Giacchino was asked what he thought and responded with this: “All I can tell you is that the thing that excites me most about a new Star Wars film is the possibility of hearing new John Williams music. I would much rather hear John Williams’ Star Wars score than my own music for Star Wars.” This clearly shows his respect level for these movies that will hopefully translate into an exceptional score of his own.
With such an impressive resume, he is a natural choice for this film. Although, director Gareth Edwards had originally chosen composer Alexandre Desplat to score this picture, as they had worked together previously on the 2014 version of Godzilla, but allegedly due to “schedule delays” Desplat was replaced by Giacchino. Who knows if that is truly the case or if Disney simply wanted a composer closer to the studio to handle such an important task. Either way, Mr. Giacchino has some huge shoes to fill. The film is all but a guaranteed success just based on the Star Wars brand alone. I mean, if the travesty that was The Phantom Menace was to able bring in nearly half a billion dollars domestically, Rogue One will surely add to the mountain of treasure Disney sits upon. Even with unusually extensive re-shoots and a high-profile composer change, fans seem ready to dish out their cash to witness the latest indulgence in the Star Wars pantheon. Only time will tell if Giacchino can summon the muses to construct a fully operational “score-de-force” that will successfully integrate itself among the vast and well-known catalog supplied by the legendary John Williams.