At the Toronto International Film Festival, many big films had their premieres on a worldwide stage. The film that kicked off the large festival was the upcoming Netflix film from David Mackenzie, “The Outlaw King.” The historical epic stars Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, a man who pushed for Scotish independence. The pseudo-sequel to “Braveheart,” “The Outlaw King” received decent reviews, but nothing extraordinary. On common issue for the film cited by critics was the 137-minute runtime. Mackenzie apparently heard those complaints.
According to Deadline, this caused Netflix and Mackenzie to workshop the film further. The streaming service and Mackenzie wanted the film to make a splash on the festival circuit, so they rushed out the 137-minute cut. Now, they’ve scaled back the film to work on the pacing, resulting in a 117-minute cut that drops 20 minutes out of the picture. Apparently, Mackenzie felt like the feature did not hit the way he wanted to in the premiere, and he gave Netflix the heads up that he would recut the film after TIFF.
This would not the first time a feature has been recut after its festival debut. Just five years ago, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” received a recut after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. “Don Jon” and “The Interrupters” also received recuts before their nationwide premieres. The practice may not be common, but it should help Mackenzie craft a leaner, potentially more impressive film.
The festival circuit continues to be an important step, but it is only a first step toward popularizing a film. With “The Outlaw King” representing a significant investment, Netflix wants this to hit. The recut could help keep audiences engaged during the viewing. With any luck, the Academy may buy in on the recut and the film could even grab an Oscar nomination or two.