Sony’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s fantasy series “The Dark Tower” opens on Friday and tracking figures are currently suggesting an opening in the mid-$20 million range – not too shabby.
The project has famously had a troubled path to the big screen, and the final form it has seemingly taken (a canonical sequel to the whole saga) has some fans raising obvious concerns about the direction they’ve chosen to go with the material.
Variety has done a feature piece on the project, and it’s not kind. The report claims the film’s creative process, especially in its post-production phase, has been “plagued with problems and clashing visions”.
The trade indicates director Nikolaj Arcel delivered an early cut of the picture that ‘alarmed’ Media Rights Capital boss Modi Wiczyk and Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman. Three test screenings conducted last October, before final effects work was done, reportedly tested poorly with audiences being unable to understand the mythology.
Sony and MRC then spent $6 million on reshoots to fill in more backstory about Elba’s character’s hatred for McConaughey’s Man in Black, along with scenes helping audiences better familiarize themselves with Mid-World.
Wiczyk and Rothman apparently considered bringing in a more experienced filmmaker to recut it. Both men have denied this, though another source says Rothman spent hours in the editing bay offering his input even as they opted not to proceed with another hire due to the expense.
The film’s producers Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman then helped wrangle the film into shape, but Arcel insists he wasn’t sidelined and says:
“On a film with two studios and powerful producers, obviously there is much passionate creative debate on how to work certain ideas or beats. But I felt supported throughout, and they all looked to me for answers. If someone had jumped into my editing room and taken over — I would have left instantly.”
Wiczyk is not happy with the criticisms, saying the film was shot on time and on budget, and his company “would never marginalize or remove a director or dare to edit a film”. MRC does have power over the marketing campaign and the ability to ‘kill’ anything they didn’t like which allegedly led to a few issues.
We’ll all find out ourselves if these issues had an impact when the film opens on Friday.