Fans of Stephen King's The Dark Tower have been up in arms after the 2017 film iteration's run time was released. Because get this, The Dark Tower is only 95 minutes long. "It's true THE DARK TOWER movie runs a clean 95 minutes. Like the first book in the series (224 pages), it's all killer and no filler," King tweeted on July 19. While this is a short run time for any film, it is especially short when you consider the original source material: Stephen King's book is one in a series of eight books, which total thousands of pages collectively. But according to director Nikolaj Arcel, die-hard fans don't need to be worried. "The answer is fairly simple: We don't try to over-explain anything," he says, sitting on a couch in a bar reimagined as the Dixie Pig (a watering hole from the books) in downtown San Diego during Comic-Con.
"We try to keep it, just as Stephen King did with the first novel, mysterious at times and not reveal too much. Also, this is not intending to encompass the entire mythology into one film," he says, noting that if the film should be lucky enough to earn a sequel (or several sequels) they would explore more of the world. "This is an introduction to the world and the characters. It is a tight, precise way of getting into the world. The run time should not concern people. There isn't anything getting lost, and fans will know this as soon as they see it."
The film, out August 4, stars Idris Elba as the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain, who is locked in an eternal battle with the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey). The Man in Black is trying to topple the dark tower, while our good guy gunslinger is trying to stop him. It's a classic tale of good versus evil, and a story that fans are excited — and nervous — to see brought to screen.
As Arcel recalls, the movie has had several directors — including JJ Abrams and Ron Howard — attached before it ultimatedly landed in his lap. But Arcel is no stranger to adaptation, and the sometimes negative discourse surrounding the film doesn't bother him.
"I wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [movie], the original one, and when we were doing that everyone said, 'They're going to ruin it. It's my favorite book.' What calms me always is that I am such a massive Dark Tower fan," he says, joking that he's read the books "five hundred times."
"At least nobody can claim that I don't have a huge love for the series. I know what I'm doing. We really, really tried our best. I'm not really worried, fans just need to go see it."
Well, you heard the man. And if the movie version somehow doesn't do justice to the books (from this conversation with super-fan Arcel alone, I somehow doubt that) at least audiences will have Elba and McConaughey to stare at for 95 whole minutes on screen.