Netflix’s historical epic Outlaw King will be trimmed by 20 minutes following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by David Mackenzie, the drama tells the story of Robert The Bruce, who transformed from defeated nobleman to reluctant King and to outlaw hero over the course of an extraordinary year. Forced into battle in order to save his family, his people and his country from the oppressive English occupation of medieval Scotland, Robert seizes the Scottish crown and rallies a ragtag group of men to face off against the wrath of the world’s strongest army lead by the ferocious King Edward 1 and his volatile son, the Prince of Wales.
Written by Mackenzie (Starred Up), Bash Doran (Boardwalk Empire), James MacInnes, Mark Bomback, plus Scottish playwright David Harrower, the film stars Chris Pine as Bruce, supported by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals), Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth), Tony Curran (Sons of Anarchy), Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones) and Billy Howle (On Chesil Beach).
The film will have its UK premiere at the London Film Festival on 17th October, but when it does, it will be in a significantly streamlined form: the TIFF premiere prompted Mackenzie to cut 20 minutes from its hefty 137-minute running time. The decision comes following mixed reaction from reviewers and audiences for a movie that had its finished version delivered to Toronto just 2 days before its debut. The original cut of the movie was closer to four hours.
“I’m sure if I had the appetite, I could do a three-part mini-series as there’s lots of characters, lots of history, but the name of the game is to make an entertaining narrative-driven film with great performances,” the director told Deadline. “You have to whittle down, it’s a hard game especially when there’s so much history to put in.”
The day after its Toronto bow, Mackenzie and producer Gillian Berrie notified Netflix of their decision.
“I could feel what the audience was like in the theater,” the director added. “I’m sensitive to the way they felt.”
What will be removed has not been specified, but the axed material will include “some complete sequences that I felt weren’t helping the story move along” in the first act and third act. “The play-ability is better now and the access to the characters,” commented Mackenzie.
One part of the film that will remain is Pine’s full frontal nudity, which sparked some media headlines.
“I can’t understand why people get worked about that,” observed Mackenzie, “I made 10 films and most of them had male frontal nudity; it’s a bathing scene and people do tend to get out of the bath without clothes.”
The Outlaw King will be released on Netflix on Friday 9th November. Watch the trailer >here.