When it comes to making blockbusters, no one filmmaker ever gets to call 100 percent of the shots (with the amount of money flying around, it tends to create a lot of voices in the room). This was certainly the case for Steven DeKnight in the making of Pacific Rim Uprising -- which is actually his feature debut as a writer/director -- but that doesn't mean that he didn't have certain demands. In fact, when I recently had the chance to sit down with the filmmaker, he specifically told me about two key things that he ensured were always part of the project:
With a movie like this, there's always a lot of big ideas - so you always shoot more than actually ends up in the movie. But a manifesto I sent Legendary after I was hired, two of the mains things on my manifesto was it had to be fun, and it had to be two hours or under. I don't mind a two hour and 45 minute movie if the subject matter lends itself to that. And I love this genre, but my feeling is that if I had stretched this out to like two and a half hours people would have started to lose interest, and it wouldn't have had the oomph or the impact. So that was really part of what I wanted to do.
It may seem like a no-brainer to want to make a robots vs. monsters movie as fun as it can possibly be, but these comments from Steven DeKnight do shed an interesting light on Pacific Rim Uprising's slim 110 minute runtime. The movie is a full 22 minutes shorter than its Guillermo del Toro-directed predecessor, and apparently it was no accident. Interviewing DeKnight earlier this month at his movie's domestic press day in Los Angeles, I asked about the development process and how much the film changed from its earliest drafts to the final cut, and it was within his response that the filmmaker mentioned two key points in his "manifesto" written for the folks at Legendary Pictures. While there may have been a bit of fat at one point, the ultimate goal was to make the feature as streamlined as possible.
Interestingly, Steven DeKnight's approach in the runtime arena seems to runs contrary to the ideology of a lot of filmmakers developing blockbusters in modern Hollywood. Because there is so much 30 and 60 minute content available on television and streaming services nowadays, there is an argument to be made that movies should run longer to stand out as a medium. It seems, however, that DeKnight isn't huge on the idea of taking that approach all that far. While he agrees that there are certainly projects that do demand longer runtimes, he didn't feel at the end of the day that Pacific Rim Uprising was film that needed it.
For your viewing pleasure, you can watch Steven DeKnight chat about Pacific Rim Uprising and the specifics of his manifesto by clicking play on the video below!
The news that Pacific Rim Uprising doesn't push things too far in the runtime department will certainly please a lot of fans who aren't huge on overlong films -- but we'll have to wait and see how it winds up influencing reaction and box office results. Thankfully, the wait isn't all that long, however, as the long-awaited sequel will be in theaters this Friday, March 23rd.