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The opening crawl is one of the most distinctive feature of Star Wars films. But only the numbered episodes have it, not Rogue One or Solo which are also part of the Star Wars franchise.

Why is this?

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The crawls have a purpose, which isn’t applicable to the Star Wars Anthology Series (the stand-alone movies starting with Rogue One).

Star Wars aped the movie serials of the 1930s and 40s, some of which opened with moving text that summarised what led up to the previous episode’s cliffhanger. The Star Wars crawls make us feel like each movie is an episode in a serial — and that we’ve missed some episodes in between the movies, as the crawls don’t generally recap what happened at the end of the previous movie.

Like the serials would generally focus on one set of characters, so the Star Wars movies focus on the Skywalkers and their allies and enemies. Rogue One and Solo are both adjuncts to that narrative; even the former, which shows us events leading right up to A New Hope, is telling the story of some other bunch of heroes in the Rebellion, not the Skywalker clan.

As such, they’re not part of the same linear narrative, so they don’t need a crawl.

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    Except that they were planning a crawl and had them all written up before deciding to get rid of them. – Valorum Jun 22 at 8:57
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    @Valorum I know! They’re lucky they consulted with me, they really could have made themselves look like chumps. – Paul D. Waite Jun 22 at 11:02
  • A question comes to mind: why would they have originally planned a crawl if their was no backstory to portray in the crawl? – Voldemort's Wrath Jun 25 at 21:26
  • @Voldemort'sWrath who said there was no backstory? – Paul D. Waite Jun 26 at 8:12
  • @Valorum "Except that they were planning a crawl and had them all written up before deciding to get rid of them." That's interesting, but does not actually apply to any of the points in Paul D. Waite's answer. A la "Ok, we have the web crawls written. Oh wait, these are stand alone, not episodes in a serial story, and are not part of the same linear narrative as the Star Wars anthology series." – Lexible Aug 17 at 16:29
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To show that they're different from the main series...

As you mentioned in your post, only the numbered episodes have it. Only the ones that are part of the main series, that is. From ScreenRant (a fairly reliable source for media), we get this:

(emphasis mine)

While the opening crawls have been a part of every mainline Star Wars movie since the very beginning, Lucasfilm decided to go a different route with Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016. That was Disney-owned Lucasfilm's first Star Wars anthology movie, so to differentiate the flick from the saga episodes, the studio opted to start the film outright and then show the logo (which was also changed) after the opening sequence; Rogue One didn't have an opening crawl. Something similar happens with Solo: A Star Wars Story, though a key difference between the two anthology blockbusters is that Solo: A Star Wars Story actually has an opening crawl, just not a... traditional one.

According to Gareth Edwards (one of the directors):

The first screenplay that Gary Whitta wrote had a crawl in it -- and you learn doing that that 'a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away' has four dots in it, not three. You get extra marks for that. And then at some point, probably like six months before we were filming, we were in a meeting, and they talked about not having an opening crawl, because these are standalone films, not part of the sagas.

Rogue One originally had one!

The directors of Rogue One originally had a crawl in the beginning. However, as mentioned by CinemaBlend (another trustworthy source for this information):

Eventually, Lucasfilm decided not to include one, apparently because they felt that since the plot of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was born from the original text crawl, it shouldn't have its own. It did open with A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

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