I bring you news, gunslingers! In an interview with Indie Wire, Brian Grazer says that he, Ron Howard & Akiva Goldsmith are still working on their adaptation of Stephen King’s epic The Dark Tower series. It was announced last year that the trio were pairing with Universal and NBC Universal Television to turn the genre-blending novels into a trio of films with a network television series tying them together. It’s an ambitious idea but, really, how else would you even begin to tackle King’s sprawling series?
Javier Bardem was set to play central protagonist Roland Deschain, to the chagrin of many King fans. Then, back in July, Universal passed on the project, presumably because of the cost and unprecedented scope of the thing. That doesn’t seem to have fazed Grazer, Howard, and Goldsmith much.
Despite the fact that Howard is committed to or in talks for several other projects, Grazer says the trio has been hard at work revising and focusing their adaptation. They’ve cut the budget of the first film down $45 or $50 million from its initial budget of $140 million, crafting a much more satisfying ending along the way: “In the $140 million draft, the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying. Now, we’ve got $45 million, $50 million out of the way and a really satisfying ending. It’s gonna get made.” Grazer seemed very insistent that the cuts to the budget in no way cut down the scope of the project, which suggests that the feature film-network television series combination is still part of the plan.
Adaptations of Stephen King’s books and novellas don’t always work out well, so I was both nervous and excited when it was announced last year that Howard, Goldsmith, and Grazer were going to tackle it. Howard might be a strange choice to direct, but Goldsmith has demonstrated a talent on Fringe for the weird and wonderful that might balance things out. And King’s The Dark Tower series kind of seems a perfect way to experiment with this kind of large-scale, cross-platform storytelling, as it has plenty of little tendrils and moving parts to play with. Of course, none of this really matters unless they can get funding for the project and a studio (and television network) to release it. Maybe the reduced budget and tighter focus will inspire some adventurous investors to jump on-board.