Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had its fair share of ups and downs during its production. On top of the strict enforcement of health protocols due to COVID-19, the Benedict Cumberbatch-led sequel experienced many reshoots over the past year, with the lead actor describing it as "really exciting." Despite that, director Sam Raimi pointed out in a previous interview that he's uncertain about the film's final cut, admitting that Marvel Studios will "keep pushing it until it’s as close to being great as it could.”
As a result, one of the main topics of discussion among the general audience is the film's runtime. Given that the film is expected to deal with the fallout from several MCU projects like WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans have long expected that the runtime would be on par with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
However, this doesn't seem to be the case as it was ultimately revealed by cinema listings that the Strange-centric sequel clocks in at 2 hours and 6 minutes.
Now, Raimi has revealed more details on how the sequel's runtime was further trimmed down during production.
Doctor Strange 2's Fast-Paced Story
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi sat down with Collider to talk about the sequel's runtime and the process behind its post-production.
While confirming that the film's official runtime is 2 hours and 6 minutes, Raimi shared that the sequel's first cut was "probably like two hours and 40 minutes" before post-production editing significantly reduced the sequel's runtime by over half an hour to just over two hours:
"Well, the first cut was... I actually don’t remember the length of it. It was probably like two hours and 40 minutes, and it slowly came down even though we did the reshoots. We took out material even though the reshoots went in. So, it slowly got down to about two hours and five minutes is the total."
It's quite common for the first cuts of movies to be considerably longer than their final runtimes; even in the MCU, Black Panther's earliest cut before was a reported four hours long before it was edited down to 2 hours 14 minutes.
When asked about his working relationship with Marvel Studios during post-production, the Spider-Man director pointed out that the studio was "very supportive," citing the fact that "they're a company that primarily just looks out for the integrity of their characters:"
"They were very supportive of myself and my editors Bob Murawski and Tia Nolan driving the train. They had their notes, they had their suggestions, and they were really good because they’re a company that primarily just looks out for the integrity of their characters. So, the notes really come from a great place."
Raimi also unveiled that "it's not about making more money" for Marvel Studios since their notes "come from a really great fan place."
"It’s not about making more money for the studio. It’s about, 'No, this is what Dr. Strange would say. No, this is what happened in the last Avengers movie and this is contrary to that. We have to be on the same page.' Their notes come from a really great fan place."
Raimi also opened up about the difference between the post-production of his Spider-Man films and Multiverse of Madness, admitting that it has become "much easier now" due to the advancement in technology:
"We had to make a lot of the tools to make the tools back in the day of Spider-Man. John Dykstra, in fact, said to me, 'Sam, the tools don’t exist to do what we’re talking about, making a CGI Spider-Man. But if we start now, we can develop the technologies so that they’ll be ready for us when we need them in a year and a half.' And I went, 'That’s the coolest thing I ever heard in my life. Let’s do that.' And we did, and the technologies were there for us. So certainly that has become much easier now."
The Marvel filmmaker continued by sharing that he utilized Zoom at its fullest since it introduces a more convenient way to coordinate with crew members easily anytime and anywhere:
"There are whole companies that are set up to make CGI characters. They’ve got great new programs in place. The pipelines are laid. So the newest tools, I think technologically that helped me were actually the telecommunication tools, Zoom, for instance. To be able to speak to a hundred different crew members around the world at the same time to share a storyboard, I could have my storyboard artists put up a storyboard to explain something to us, or I could have the art department bring up a design so that we could look at it with the director of photography and talk about how we’d light it. Or I could, on the same call, have my editor show a clip of a scene that was partially edited so we could really understand where this insert would go between which two shots. That tool is incredibly helpful and a great new advance in movie making."
The Hype Surrounding Doctor Strange 2
While the length of the film may come as a surprise to some fans, Multiverse of Madness' runtime clearly suggests that the focus will be on the respective character arcs of Doctor Strange and Wanda Maximoff, thus hinting at a more fast-paced story.
Based on the first reactions from critics, it seems that the shorter runtime worked better for its small and contained story, but it still managed to pull off some surprises.
The fact that the film's initial runtime was 2 hours and 40 minutes could hint that there were extended story beats that were included, but Marvel Studios chose to cut them. It's also possible that rumored cameos of other characters were originally slated to appear, but Sam Raimi and Marvel ultimately decided to scrap them all together in order to keep the focus on Strange and Wanda.
Marvel Studios' dedication to putting the integrity of their characters first and foremost should serve as a positive sign for future filmmakers as it doesn't compromise their vision for the project. Raimi's reveal that they are on the "same page" all the time is an encouraging development as well.
All in all, Raimi's passion for superhero movies is poised to be showcased once again when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres in theaters on May 6.