After lots of development troubles and J.J. Abrams’s involvement, Stephen King’s epic book series The Dark Tower is finally being adapted for the screen. In a unique, multi-platform move, Ron Howard will helm the same continuity that will carry over into both a trilogy of feature films, and two seasons of a TV show. Read more after the break.
Deadline reveals that the deal, which took months to close, sees the project at Universal Pictures and NBC. For those of you that don’t know about King’s Dark Tower series, Deadline also provided a brief description of the plot:
Considered King’s answer to JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth trilogy, The Dark Tower revolves around Roland Deschain, the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, and humanity’s last hope to save a civilization that will crumble unless he finds the Dark Tower. Howard and Goldsman describe the world as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.”
Pretty short, pretty accurate. The Dark Tower also features cameos from characters spanning many of King’s other books (which is very, very cool), such as The Stand and ‘Salem’s Lot. Hopefully they’ll make it into the movies.
And here we come to the interesting part – how this project will be released. In terms of the multiple platforms and scheduling of the release of the films and show, it’ll all go something like this:
– First feature film.
– A TV season bridging the gap between the first and second films. The cast of the feature will appear in it, as they will in the films.
– Second feature film.
– A prequel TV season based on Deschain as a young gunslinger, set before everything else. This will be based on material from Marvel’s Dark Tower comic series, which King helped to create.
– Third feature film.
It’s certainly an interesting approach, and seems to be the first time something has been done like this, especially with regards to such a big-budget project. I’m surprised they managed to convince studios to go along with it, so they must have something great up their sleeves. The TV series will be able to utilise sets and such from the movies, enabling the spending of less money, and also meaning the TV show should look better than most (and considering the CGI submarine in Lost, it better look better). Maybe this saving-on-budget was what swayed Universal and NBC.
Howard spoke to Deadline about the idea, in response to comparisons with what Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings:
“What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history,” Howard told me. “The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”
Howard will direct the first film and the first TV season, both of which will be written by Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, I Am Legend). While I’m not ecstatic over the choice of director or writer, I do like some of their work, and trust that King has put the project in good hands. Howard expects to get straight to work on this after finishing The Dilemma, his comedy due out next year.
Stephen King is probably my absolute favourite writer, and while I’ve only yet read the first of his Dark Tower novels, I know enough to know that this has the potential to be amazing. Two seasons and three films will mean a lot of content. This could be the first, hugely epic, completely awesome fantasy project since Return of the King came out back in 2003.