We here at Consequence of Sound are big fans of Stephen King. So devoted is our fandom that we have our own Stephen King podcast, The Losers’ Club, wherein we discuss King’s books in addition to the latest news of consequence to Constant Readers. One topic that surfaces again and again is Nikolaj Arcel’s forthcoming adaptation of King’s epic series, The Dark Tower, and how the film’s shifting release dates, dearth of marketing, and short runtime are all cause for concern.
Arcel himself took to Reddit yesterday for an AMA, during which fans expressed their skepticism in between questions regarding the director’s process. Arcel reveals himself to be a true fan of the series—he drops Dark Tower-isms like khef and ka-tet pretty comfortably—but he remains a bit opaque in terms of details. Still, here’s what we learned.
1. Stephen King approves of it
After a fan asked how much interaction Arcel had with King, Arcel responded that there was plenty. “The biggest moment for me was about a week ago,” he writes, “when he saw the finished film and wrote me an email with the words ‘As far as I’m concerned, you have remembered the face of your father.'”
Granted, King’s pretty liberal with his praise, having already written on Twitter about how much he loves each and every one of his forthcoming adaptations. He’s also expressed affection for past adaptations, only to turn on them once the property has more or less faded from memory—hello, Graveyard Shift!—so let’s take this one with a grain of salt. It doesn’t help anyone involved to have King trash the thing.
2. Arcel hopes people will argue about it
Probably the most concerning answer Arcel gives is in response to a fan who expresses nervousness over the adaptation. “You think you’re nervous??” he writes. “I’m probably the most nervous fan of them all.”
He goes on to say that one of the “fun things” about the series is the “debate culture around the books themselves” and that he hopes the film “will inspire the same king of passionate debate.”
While all books evolve and shapeshift to accommodate the medium of film, the crew (and King) has adopted some carefully coded language in the lead-up to its release, all of which points to the fact that The Dark Tower won’t just be different from its source material, but downright unrecognizable. Saying that you’re excited for the “debate” your film will cause isn’t all that far from saying that you’re expecting to piss off a lot of people.
3. The plot mainly encompasses books one and three in the series
After a fan asked what books most influenced the film’s plot, Arcel responded that it relies heavily on The Gunslinger in terms of serving as “an introduction to the world and its simplicity in focusing on the characters of Roland, Jake, and Walter.” For Jake’s journey, however, his origin story from The Wastelands is also heavily drawn upon. “Even if the film brings in ideas from several of the novels,” he concludes, “these are the two from which our main inspirations spring.”
4. He addressed the length
Look, we don’t want more long movies. It’s just that a 95-minute runtime doesn’t allow much space for world-building for a supposed franchise. It also resonates as a lack of commitment on the studio’s part; Marvel movies are long because the studio itself is always thinking of the future. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s easy to speculate that those behind The Dark Tower don’t have especially high hopes for it.
Arcel defends the runtime thusly: “This film really serves as an introduction to the saga and I’ve always felt that we should not try to cram every single part of the massive mythology, including all the great characters and storylines, into one film. Obviously the story is supposed to continue in future films and the TV series. Hopefully at the end of it all there won’t be a single thing from the novels that we haven’t touched upon in some way.”
5. There will be lobstrosities
“I have one question and two followups: Did-a-chick? Ded-a-chek? and finally, and this is key, Dad-a-chum?” asked one Redditor, referencing the sounds made by the series’ freakish lobstrosities.
Arcel’s answer is exciting: “You will find the answer to your question in a water tank in the Dixie Pig sequence.” Hooray!
Still, why are we going to the Dixie Pig? Doesn’t that show up in, like, the sixth book?
Our fingers are crossed for this thing.
Below, watch a newly released featurette on The Dark Tower. The film hits theaters on August 4th.