This last weekend Star Wars fans and general audiences flocked to theaters to watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This is the first standalone that Lucasfilm has released, and it was a huge success! Audiences loved it, and the box office receipts total $290 million worldwide so far.
It was filled with lots of great surprises and a few nods to the original trilogy. As it turns out, some unused footage from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope was used in Rogue One in the big X-Wing dogfight sequence at the end. Director Gareth Edwards recently talked about coming across this footage while touring Skywalker Ranch. During an interview with Radiotimes he said:
And as we're walking around, and doing all the cool things and looking at the Millennium Falcon and trying on Han Solo's jacket and things like that, in the back at the bottom was all these cans of film. And we said 'what are they?' and they said 'Oh, it's Star Wars. And you go... 'has someone gone through all this? And it's like 'not really, they're not fully like digitized at all.' We got the neg documents and found the clips from A New Hope that hadn't been used. And there's pilot photography and lines that were never featured in A New Hope.
How freakin' cool is that?! They used actual footage and dialogue from A New Hope! What an incredible way to pay homage to that film. In case you're wondering what footage I'm talking about, I don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen the movie so go ahead and scroll down if you want to know.
There were deleted scenes from A New Hope featuring some exchanges between X-Wing pilots during the battle of the Death Star. Those scenes of the pilots were used during the final X-Wing dogfight battle against the Empire in Rogue One, and there's a point in that scene where we see Gold Leader, played by Angus MacInnes, back in action and his appearance caused the crowd in the theater to explode with cheers.
With the help of Industrial Light and Magic, Edwards was able to digitally cut around the footage and insert the characters into the cockpits of the ships that were used in Rogue One. Edwards went on to talk about his experience at the premiere when Gold Leader made his appearance:
“At the world premiere in LA, there was this massive cheer at a particular point in the film. It was the only time during the premiere where I actually punched the air.”
Here's a photo of the character below.