How much time passes between Rogue One and Episode IV?

Given the ending of Rogue One, it seems as if it may be as little as a few minutes, but could be days or weeks.

Is there any canon source, or any overlooked details of either movie that might answer this?

  • I skipped the spoilered area. Yeah, it seems very short.
    – user40790
    Dec 16, 2016 at 21:44
  • With the way it ended, I'd say even less
    – CBredlow
    Dec 16, 2016 at 21:46
  • An hour, two maybe. Dec 16, 2016 at 21:54

5 Answers 5


Somewhere between ten minutes and a couple of hours

According to The Hollywood Reporter, who spoke with an anonymous on-set source in May 2016, the two films are only separated by about ten minutes1:

"This is the closest thing to a prequel ever," a source tells THR. "This takes place just before A New Hope and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins. You have to match the tone!"

While Leland Chee said on Twitter that it was no more than a couple of hours, and potentially not even as long as that:

enter image description here

@TheIdDM: How much time passes between RO and ANH? Is it a matter of hours or days? Thank you!

@HolocronKeeper: Hours, if that. They're relatively close on the galactic map.

Although this may seem difficult to believe, it's worth keeping in mind that Rogue One ends with the Tantive IV fleeing Scarif in hyperspace:

"Star Destroyer closing!" called the officer at the tactical console. Raymus didn't recognize the face — one of Raddus's men.

He erased the fear from his own expression. "Get us into hyperspace," he said.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Official Novelization Epilogue

With Vader in hot pursuit:

Vader clenched his gloved hand until the man’s neck snapped. Then he tossed the body aside. He activated his comlink and barked to his stormtroopers, "Find their escape vessel."


Darth Vader chased his quarry, seeking solace in the final triumph of the Emperor.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Official Novelization Epilogue

Since Leia already knew where she was going, there are only two events that occur between the end of Rogue One and the beginning of A New Hope:

  1. Vader figures out Tantive IV's destination
  2. The two ships travel from Sacrif to Tatooine in hyperspace

We don't know how long it would have taken Vader to track the Rebel ship; the canon novel Tarkin suggests that it's basically impossible to track a ship in hyperspace, and Vader only manages to do so in that novel because the ship he's tracking is carrying his own meditation sphere; later in the book they're forced to resort to statistical inference and psychological profiling to determine targets, both of which take time.

However, we have every indication that the actual trip wouldn't take long at all; Entertainment Weekly's Ultimate Guide to Rogue One, which was produced in collaboration with the filmmakers, included an updated galaxy map showing just how close Scarif (red circle) is to Tatooine (blue circle):

enter image description here

They are quite close indeed, and it doesn't surprise me that it would only take a few minutes to travel between them at lightspeed.

1 Perhaps worth noting that Pablo Hidalgo doubts this to be true

  • Maybe elaborate on what you mean with the book quote; it's not super clear what you mean there. Thanks.
    – RedCaio
    Dec 17, 2016 at 20:42
  • Wow, so it takes 10 minutes to get from Scarif to Tatooine. I don't know how fast hyperspace is, but given that it takes 8 minutes for light from our sun to reach Earth, that just sounds ludicrous. And that doesn't even take into account how unbelievably fortunate it is that Obi-Wan Kenobi is on a planet right next door to this major military outpost that just happened to be the only one with the Death Star plans! Dec 18, 2016 at 6:40
  • 2
    I'd be willing to believe that most people involved in Rogue One don't know how long it takes to go places at hyperspeed, considering Yavin 4 seems just a couple minutes away from everywhere. Dec 18, 2016 at 15:50
  • @Thunderforge The <s>plot</s> Force moves in mysterious ways Dec 18, 2016 at 15:53
  • 2
    If we read it as "ten minutes of storytelling time", it makes more sense.
    – Werrf
    Dec 19, 2016 at 13:07

Here's what appears the be the progression of events. I can't say it's 10 minutes (seems too short), but it couldn't have been more than a day or two

  1. The Tantive IV is ejected and jumps into hyperspace with the Death Star plans
  2. Per the conversation between Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, Leia's next job is to find Obi-Wan Kenobi. We know that Bail Organa knew that Obi-Wan had gone to Tatooine. So Leia heads there, but presumably not directly
  3. Vader, hot from the pursuit, tracks them down (which is where ANH starts)

My personal bet is either they sent out a ton of probe droids, ESB-style, or they put out a bounty. Both have precedent in other movies

  • In this case, I want to believe that Vader used the Force to track them, rather than some probes
    – Sebustyan
    Dec 19, 2016 at 8:05
  • @Sebustyan wouldn't Vader using the Force to track Leia potentially reveal other plot-points to him?
    – steenbergh
    Dec 19, 2016 at 8:19
  • @steenbergh He doesn't have to necessarily track Leia as a specific person. It's just a wild assumption, but he can simply track the life forms, that were present on the frigate. He was, after all, born from midi-chlorians, so even if his suit prevents him to use most of his powers, he is still very strong with the Force.
    – Sebustyan
    Dec 19, 2016 at 8:32
  • @Sebustyan ESB would have played out very differently if he could do that, tho. Not once but twice, Luke escapes from Vader. We only see them able to sense each other once Luke knew how to use the Force, and only across short distances. Likewise, we don't see Palpatine able to do that either (he has to trap the Rebels instead of just saying "Hey, they're over there, go wipe them out")
    – Machavity
    Dec 19, 2016 at 13:25

If you've read Lost Stars, which is supposed to be official canon, then timeline gets even more complicated.

Ciena mentions the rebel attack in Rogue One but doesn't know much about what happens. At least 3 weeks later (and about 50 pages in the book) she's aboard the Devastator as they captured the Tantive IV. So if you're going by this it was at least 3 weeks between end of Rogue One and New Hope.

Doesn't really make sense so too bad they already screwed up the new canon. But it's minor, still great movie and book.

  • I think you're misremembering Lost Stars. Ciena does mention the theft of the Death Star plans, but it's on the same page as the capture of the Tantive IV, and she says the attack (or an attack; it's not clear that they're the same one) occurred "recently." That's three weeks after her graduation from the Imperial Academy, and fifty pages prior takes us back many years of story time Jan 1, 2017 at 0:38
  • Thanks Jason. You're absolutely right. I was thinking she made those rebel comments before her assignment around the time of the graduation party. Screwed up the page numbers which were kind of a guess since I was trying to relate kindle version to actual book. Really it was when Alderaan was destroyed in the books and only then were the main characters aware of Death Star being fully operation that confused me of the timeline. I don't know the full canon well so trying to make sense of it which is what brought me here. It's just nitpicking and me being curious if an explanation.
    – rickeroye
    Jan 1, 2017 at 16:49

I recently saw an interview with John Knoll, the VFX supervisor at ILM who came up with the initial story concept for Rogue One.

He mentioned that the ending of Rogue One is a direct handoff that takes place a few minutes before Ep IV a New Hope. Not sure this is the definitive end-all answer, but it's the most credible source I've seen that explains the timeline.

  • 1
    Welcome to SFF.SE! Is there anyway you can link this interview? It would make this a great answer!
    – Skooba
    Jan 7, 2017 at 15:34

As we saw, C-3PO and R2-D2 were at the Rebel base on Yavin at the time of the battle, and then they're on Tantive IV at the beginning of A New Hope.

This leads me to believe Tantive IV stopped back at base before embarking for Tatooine... so maybe a couple days at least?

  • 2
    This would work as an answer, but you seem to be asking it as a question.
    – Adamant
    Dec 19, 2016 at 6:18
  • 3
    it would be weird if they went to pick up r2 and c3po and not drop of a copy of the plans.
    – Andy
    Dec 19, 2016 at 7:20
  • 2
    The novelisation indicates that the droids were already on the ship. They didn't go back for them
    – Valorum
    Dec 19, 2016 at 7:24
  • There's also a logical flaw there. If they went back to Yavin, what was the point of making sure the droids got to Yavin?
    – Machavity
    Dec 22, 2016 at 1:28

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