It’s been a tumultuous journey for Stephen King’s self-described magnum opus — The Dark Tower — to make it on to the big screen. After numerous delays and a disconcertingly rocky production, the film is finally hitting theaters this weekend.
Although I was deeply concerned about what I was hearing about its troubled filming, those apprehensions were abated when I finally saw the film’s trailer: a pitch-perfect recreation of everything I could have ever hoped for with the film. Sure, it looked like they were adapting as many as the first three books into the one film, raising questions about how much of the series would ultimately have to be cut to accommodate its length, but the heart of the story — the worlds-spanning quest for the center of all creation set amidst a fiercely unique battle between Good and Evil — was still there, and the cast was beyond reproach. That was enough for me.
Many didn’t share my reassurance, however, and I can hardly blame them. When a film is this long in the making — and this repeatedly delayed in post-production, ultimately going from a prime summer release date to one in August, the dumping ground for would-be blockbusters — it is never a good sign. It’s one of the reason why the repeated and extensive reshoots for Justice League are concerning to so many film fans: there’s only so much you can fix a film once it’s actually set in motion.
Never-the-less, my optimism on the subject persisted. Everything I’d seen from it was looking good, and the final cut of the film ended up with author Stephen King’s seal of approval. And coming from the man who has spent decades lambasting the Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of his novel The Shining, that has to mean something.
Just ahead of its August 4th release, however, a new wave of troubling news has begun circulating this movie. It turns out that as rocky as its production was, its post-production was even worse.
Director Nikolaj Arcel’s first cut of the film was evidently poorly received by test audiences, who called it confusing and bad. Studio executives were evidently so incensed by what they saw that they considered firing Arcel and hiring a new director to oversee the final edits to the film, although they never pulled the trigger on this nuclear option.
The film’s producers were ultimately content with exercising a heavier hand over the film’s editing process, reshaping the film into something preview audiences have evidently responded better to. This final version — the one that King himself is happy with — is the one that will hit theaters later this week.
Hopefully it will all prove to be worth it in the end. If not, well, there are other worlds than these, after all.
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