With the impending release of Rogue One for digital release this Friday and on Blu-ray April 4th, Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta goes into detail about what was altered from the original "happy ending" version of the film and the original fate of Krennic.
From the article:
In that early “happy ending” version, there was no Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe, or Baze Malbus. Jyn was an enlisted Rebel soldier instead of a street criminal recruited on a spy mission. “In fact, some of the toys that are sold still say Sgt. Jyn Erso,” Whitta says. “That’s who she was, she was a sergeant in the Rebel Alliance. By the time we changed that, some of the toys were already in production. I have a Sgt. Jyn Erso on my desk, even though she’s not a sergeant in the film. She still commanded a strike force with a Cassian Andor-type character (“He was called something different back then,” Whitta notes) and the security droid K-2SO was always a part of the team.”
Whitta goes on to confirm that not everybody died in the original ending:
“I didn’t say everyone made it off. Kaytoo always died,” Whitta said. “Jyn did survive. ‘Cassian’ also survived. There were a lot of casualties on both sides, in both versions of the scripts.”
“A rebel ship came down and got them off the surface,” Whitta says. “The transfer of the plans happened later. They jumped away and later [Leia’s] ship came in from Alderaan to help them. The ship-to-ship data transfer happened off Scarif.”
Darth Vader was still in pursuit and began attacking Jyn’s shuttle as the Rebels tried desperately to transfer the information from the data tapes to Leia’s vessel. Finally, Vader was successful in breaching their shields and destroying the craft.
The audience would have been left fearing the heroes were dead. But as Vader’s Star Destroyer ventures off to chase Leia’s Tantive IV, we would have remained focused on the shuttle fragments floating in the vastness of space.
“They got away in an escape pod just in time,” Whitta said. “The pod looked like just another piece of debris.”
So what was the original plan for the Krennic character?
Back in this version of the story, Jyn Erso and the character we came to know as Cassian Andor escaped with both the data tapes and their lives. The villain of the story, Director Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn) also survived the battle, although barely.
Instead of lying wounded on a transmission platform while the green beam of the Death Star literally incinerates him on its trajectory into the planet, Krennic found shelter from the blast. In what sounds like a type of epilogue to the story, we would have seen his rescue by Imperial forces.
“They tore him out of the rubble and they brought him back,” Whitta says. “When they’re going over the ruins, he somehow survived.”
Krennic thinks he has endured. He thinks he has served valiantly for the Emperor. He thinks he has done everything right, everything within his power … right up until an unseen force squeezes off the air in his throat.
“Vader kills him for his failure,” Whitta says.
Would you have preferred the happy ending version of Rogue One? Mon Mothma thanks you for your time.
Source, Source 2