We’ve been hearing about a possible film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series since 2010. It was an ambitious project at the time, with a projected film trilogy and two seasons of television between each movie to connect its long and sprawling narrative. Since those very early details and rumors, the scope has gotten smaller, almost non-existent, as other projects surfaced from the filmmakers involved, including director Ron Howard, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and producers Brian Grazer and Stephen King himself.
On the Empire Magazine podcast, Howard gave fans the latest update on The Dark Tower adaptation. Howard appears to still be hard at work on the film and hopes to bring it to a theater near you soon. He’s just trying to figure out the timetable and production schedule, but he remains optimistic that the movie will in fact be made. Howard explained:
The Dark Tower is something that we’re still working on. We’ve all taken a vow of silence about the progress, the headway, what we think our timetable is, because I don’t think I realized how much media interest there was in the title and how much excitement there was.
It’s a fascinating, powerful possibility and even Stephen King acknowledges it’s a tricky adaptation, but to be honest, from a financing side, it’s not a straightforward, four-quadrant, sunny superhero story – it’s dark, it’s horror. That edge is what appeals to me, the complexities of those characters is what appeals to all of us. And I think Stephen King really respects that, with [regular screenwriting collaborator] Akiva Goldsman and myself, that that’s what we love about it, and that’s what we want to try to get to the screen.
According to Howard, the film was delayed, but is still on track. Whether or not the film series adaptation is still as ambitious as it once was in 2010, still remains to be seen. The Dark Tower has seen a lot of low points, as it jumped from movie studio to movie studio in the hopes that it would be made. The project first appeared at Universal with an agreement that the movie studio would make the three films, as well as the two seasons of television for one of their networks, most likely NBC or the SyFy Channel. In 2011, the studio pulled its involvement and the project then jumped to Warner Bros, who agreed to make at least one movie. The studio also committed to one season of television for the premium cable network HBO, which falls under the Warner Bros. corporate umbrella. In 2012, Warner Bros also passed on the project. Javier Bardem and Russell Crowe were at one time attached to play the lead, but both have since dropped out due to the uncertainty.
The Dark Tower series is made up of eight books and one novella that King wrote from 1970 to 2012. The series follows Roland Deschain, a lonely gunslinger on a quest to find and protect the Dark Tower, a building that legend says is the nexus of all universes. There are elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and Western all wrapped into one sprawling narrative. The franchise is described as a mix between the Legends of King Arthur, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
It’s clear that fans want to see The Dark Tower on the big screen (and the small screen as it were), but the adaptation might be just too big for any movie studio to undertake, unless they were certain that it would be extremely profitable. As it stands, the subject matter might be too dark and strange for mainstream audiences. Nevertheless, studios are always looking for more properties to adapt, so there’s always a chance that this could happen.