Warner Bros. Passes on ‘Dark Tower’ Adaptation; Back to Development Hell [Updated]

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm,

dark tower adaptation Warner Bros. Passes on Dark Tower Adaptation; Back to Development Hell [Updated]

[Updated: We’re now getting word that Ted-backer Media Rights Capital might pick-up The Dark Tower adaptation.] 

Director Ron Howard’s ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King book series, The Dark Tower, has been struggling for over two years now in various iterations of development hell. Unfortunately (or happily – depending on how you feel about the project), it sounds as if The Dark Tower is once again losing traction.

We’re now getting word that Warner Bros. has passed on the recently retooled adaptation pitch – sending the project flailing back into development hell.

According to Variety, the studio isn’t interested in moving forward with the project – though no specific reason was given. Despite a lack of comment from Warner Bros, it’s easy to imagine why they’d be uneasy about taking-on The Dark Tower – specifically Howard’s infamously expensive plan to tell the story by alternating between big screen features and television miniseries.

While it can be hard to defend the ballooning cost of big budget movie making these days, Howard wasn’t just being greedy or overly-ambitious when he planned the movie/miniseries Dark Tower combo. The scale of the books could definitely benefit from the bang of big screen movie-making as well as lengthier (and more intimate) character pieces on the small screen. In a world where studios don’t have to weigh opportunity cost, Howard’s idea would be a no-brainer. However, the cost of such an ambitious venture was hard for Universal to swallow (even for a well-known Stephen King series) – think Lord of the Rings but with more installments and a full-scale television miniseries production to balance.

Mark Verheiden writes dark tower Warner Bros. Passes on Dark Tower Adaptation; Back to Development Hell [Updated]

As a result, Universal withdrew their support of the project – since a scaled down version of The Dark Tower is even less-likely to succeed (and would have probably caused Howard to abandon the project altogether).

Fast-forward half a year and Warner Bros. was mulling over the possibility of resurrecting the project under their wing. As the studio debated whether or not they could greenlight one of the most expensive and formidable film productions in history, Hollywood heavy-hitter Russell Crowe threw his weight behind the project – asserting that he’d be willing to play leading man, Roland Deschain, if Warner Bros. decided to foot the bill. Unfortunately, unless Warner Bros. changes their mind, or another studio decides they want to get fan hopes up again, it’s unlikely that Crowe will make it any closer than former star Javier Bardem in his journey to gunsling across Dark Tower‘s post-apocalyptic landscapes.

Given the lackluster turnout for other book-turned-big budget movie franchise starters, such as John Carter, it’s hard to blame either studio for being wary of a commitment to Howard’s Dark Tower - especially since the plan, ideally, called for production to start on the first TV miniseries before finally tallies for the first film would be in. Any studio that signs-on for The Dark Tower will need to have a very motivated TV partner and a lot of faith in the overarching franchise, not to mention very deep pockets, in order to get the ball rolling again.

Update: Deadline is reporting that Media Rights Capital, the investment company behind Ted and Elysium, might pick up The Dark Tower – and that an announcement could come very soon. We’ll keep you updated as we hear actual concrete details.


Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more Dark Tower coverage as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Source: Variety

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  1. The concept of movies and miniseries is the ultimate deal-breaker here.
    There is no precedent for an undertaking of this scale following that
    approach and just too much money is necessary to execute it.

  2. -_-

  3. It’ simply ridiculous for the director to expect such a massive financial commitment upfront. How about making one film at a time, like the Harry POtter series?

    • No, it’s not. A project like this that will flop between TV and movies requires a LOT of pre-planning, resources and commitment so it can be executed correctly. It’s similar to Jackson making all 3 LotR films at the same time. Would they have really made Fellowship and then wait to see if it was going to be financially successful before moving forward? This would be similar but require more of an investment.

      That being said I don’t see what WBs huge hang up is. They just pulled in nearly a BILLION dollars from TDKR, stand to pull in at least that again in 4 months with the Hobbit (and again the following year and the year after) Seems to me if anyone can pull of such an ambitious project, it would be WB.

      Maybe they either need to retool the idea to be completely movie or TV based because that would seem to be the most problematic thing to pull off successfully.

  4. I want to see this but only if they can do the entire story justice.

    I think a Harry Potter-like format with multiple movies would work best, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be as big a draw like the Potter movies were. I could be wrong about that, though.

    I’d definitely go see it if it had a quality team of people to bring it to life.

  5. i think its crazy when studios throw in 200 mil plus into untested movies and hope they do good enough to warrent a sequel. You would think they would start out the first film smaller and then if it does well they can go bigger for the next film or stay trimmed for the sequel.

    for example, prince of persia, that movie cost 200 mil to make. and i dont really see where all that money was spent. i think they couldve easily made a very similar movie for roughly 140 or 150. why dont studios do this?

  6. I’m glad. As much as I would like to see this on the big screen. I think we would get to see the whole thing if they do it on HBO, Showtime, or Starz. Look at what is ruling the roost on those channels. Books that weren’t near as good as the Dark Tower Series. If they don’t spend a lot of time on BS side storys, they could do this series from start to finish in 7 seasons.

  7. Mini series on HBO, Showtime, or Starz…
    Or a series of movies on the big screen.
    The breakdown is the movie/TV concept. Pick one or the other.

    Personally I would watch this no matter what format they decide. But this is a story worth telling on screen.

  8. I’ve never read the books but I love the idea of having movies and TV series coinciding to create a huge story!

  9. Interesting that a much smaller studio would take on such an ambitious project where a studio giant with billions at their disposal won’t? Good for them.

    and I just saw that MRC is also making a SyFy show based on “The Adjustment Bureau”