It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the upcoming Dark Tower film might be a bit troubled, but now some fresh intel about the production process has started to leak out.
Variety reports the MRC and Sony co-production did not have a very easy trip to the big screen. Behind the scenes, producers apparently realized the project could be in trouble when director Nikolaj Arcel delivered an early cut that “alarmed” producers. Early test screenings confirmed those fears, with audiences apparently reporting the project was “a mess.” Viewers had trouble following the story and mythology, and when stars like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey can’t keep an audience engaged, you know there’s a problem.
From there, the retooling began. Around $6 million in reshoots were commissioned (which isn’t that expensive, considering, though the film did have a relatively small $66 million budget to start with), which added and cut some scenes to try and provide some context and backstory as to why Elba’s Gunslinger hates McConaughey’s Man in Black. Co-writer and producer Akiva Goldsman also reportedly stepped in during post-production, and producer Ron Howard gave extensive notes.
Thanks to the co-production agreement between the two studios, the marketing and production process was also a challenge. MRC had “kill rights” on everything from final cut to marketing, meaning both studios had to agree on everything (down to the cuts of trailers) before it could move forward — which isn’t always easy.
For what it's worth, the studios and Arcel deny there were problems during production, though where there's this much smoke, there has to be at least a little bit of fire.
Even for fans on the outside looking in, the warning signs have been there for a long time. A rough cut of the trailer leaked months before the official debut, and it was a train wreck. Then the studio moved the release date (a few times). Then the actual trailers arrived, and largely underwhelmed. Then word broke that the film is a breezy hour and a half long. For a saga that has bested would-be directors from J.J. Abrams to Howard, that’s not a lot of time to cram in Stephen King’s decades-long saga. Lastly, the studio has not allowed any press screenings for critics … which is never a good sign.
The Dark Tower opens August 4. Do you plan on checking it out, despite the problems getting here?