Director Nikolaj Arcel has explained why his upcoming movie adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower is only 95 minutes long. Set to release this summer after years of on-again, off-again development, The Dark Tower found its home at Sony Pictures, and its director with Arcel. Starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, The Dark Tower tells of Roland (Elba), the last gunslinger from Mid-World, who is on a quest to reach the titular tower before The Man in Black (McConaughey).
King's original body of work has recently been described as his magnum opus, and the story of Roland's quest spans seven very long novels. While Arcel has made it clear from the outset that The Dark Tower movie would only tell part of that story, with another major chunk being saved for a tie-in TV series, fans were still very surprised to see the movie's runtime listed as 95 minutes. Particularly in modern cinema, that is very short for a feature film.
However, speaking to Slashfilm at San Diego Comic-Con, Arcel explained the method behind what some are perceiving as madness:
"The good news here…the reason why many fans are worried about the run time is that they think we are trying to do everything in this film. Which we are not. This is ideally the first film. This is an introduction to the world and the characters. It’s not meant to be all the novels and we’re just trying to cram everything in there. So that’s one thing. And the script was really lean and tight. When I got on board, the script was very short, very lean. That’s one of the things that attracted me to it. I said “This is smart.” You start with a lean, mean story and you don’t try to cram everything in there. You just build the basic ideas. And if people enjoy it and if they like this world and these characters, we can start expanding."
So, in short, Arcel and Sony are hoping that The Dark Tower spawns multiple sequels. That is certainly more than possible; after all, there's a wealth of source material available to draw from. The tie-in TV series, set to be directed by Ron Howard, is said to focus on the fourth Dark Tower book, 'Wizard and Glass', which is almost entirely a flashback to Roland's life as a teenager. Therefore, The Dark Tower story itself, and the ongoing battle between Roland and The Man in Black, is still ready to be continued on the big screen.
Missing from this first movie are two other main characters, who both play huge parts in the series of novels. Susannah and Eddie Dean are native New Yorkers, both living at different points in time. Roland brings them both to mid-world, to embark upon his quest with him and his young charge, Jake, who is also from New York at a different point in time. Fans were surprised to see them omitted from the list of characters but, should The Dark Tower perform well at the box office, they could well appear in a second movie, or beyond. Of course, that also means that the pressure is now on for Sony and Arcel; The Dark Tower has to have done enough to hold audience's interest, and it must still tell a complete story, in order to set the demand for more. We'll find out if it's done that, in just a couple of weeks.
- The Dark Tower (2017) release date: Aug 04, 2017