Ron Howard to Direct ‘Spy Vs. Spy’ & ‘Rush’; ‘Dark Tower’ Development Hell?

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:27 pm,

The future of Ron Howard’s ambitious adaptation of The Dark Tower series looks to be growing decidedly more grim with each passing day. Concerns over the project’s massive budget recently forced Universal to hit the brakes on the production.

Howard quickly jumped into damage control mode and insisted that everything was still on track, but his interest in an assortment of new films seems to indicate that we probably won’t be seeing Roland Deschain on the big screen anytime soon.

Warner Bros. is developing a live-action film based on MAD Magazine’s long-running Spy Vs. Spy comic strip and according to Deadline, Howard will be calling the shots. The strip centers around two warring spies who use outlandish and over the top booby-traps in an ostensibly unending struggle to eliminate one another. Spy Vs. Spy segments are currently featured on the Cartoon Network series MAD and the titular characters also appeared in animated interstitials on the sketch show MADtv. The property has also been licensed for action figures, video games, and board games.

Howard and his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will produce Spy Vs. Spy alongside David Koepp. John Kamps (Premium Rush, Ghost Town) is set to write the screenplay. Deadline affirms that the film will stay true to the spirit of its source material and describes it as “a physical and highly visual action comedy with two spies going mano a mano in ruthless fashion.”

Howard is also attached to direct Rush – a film based on the real life rivalry that existed between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The script was written by Academy Award-nominee Peter Morgan, who recently collaborated with Howard on Frost/Nixon. Paul Greengrass previously expressed interest in the project, but ultimately chose to make Maersk Alabama instead.

Howard has also been offered a new Frankenstein feature that’s set up at 20th Century Fox – so clearly he has no shortage of options. The question remains, though – is he simply trying to squeeze in another film before The Dark Tower gets underway or is this further evidence that the beleaguered production is headed for development hell?

RolandDeschain Ron Howard to Direct Spy Vs. Spy & Rush; Dark Tower Development Hell?

Vulture seems to think it’s the latter. They’ve heard that the reason Howard is suddenly circling so many other films is that word has started to spread through Hollywood that the prolific director’s relationship with The Dark Tower is about to come to an end. Universal has yet to approve of the latest batch of rewrites, but Howard was optimistic that he’d get an official green light by the end of the summer. If that turns out to be the case, his priorities could potentially shift once again.

The problem is that even with a reduced budget, The Dark Tower is still a risky endeavor for the studio. The epic story is set to unfold over the course of three theatrical films and two television mini series – a strategy which puts an immense amount of pressure on the inaugural film. If it failed to perform as expected, production on the first season of the television series would already be underway.

It seems like an intriguing gamble, but it might not be one that Universal is prepared to make at this time. They already nixed plans for Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness for similar reasons – and right now it looks as if The Dark Tower is coming dangerously close to suffering the same fate.

Rush sounds like a promising film, but something tells me that Spy Vs. Spy won’t be much of a consolation for fans that were ready to see The Dark Tower brought to life.

Source: Deadline and Vulture.

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  1. How about just making an HBO or Showtime series based on the Dark Tower Series, I would rather see that than a movie. So many great books would be better as tv series than as a film.

    • Hell yeah. HBO would be nearly perfect for this. They took the ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ novels (which are basically Twilight as written by a grown up)and made it way cooler. The same team that does ‘Trueblood’ would do way more for the Dark Tower than Ron Howard, and probably in half the time. It seems to me that the bigger the names, the bigger the bureaucracy, and the red tape, and the longer the wait. I can’t back that statement up in any way, but it feels right.
      Another thing they could do to drastically decrease the budget of the franchise, would be to make it in the fashion of ‘Beowolf’. A good CGI movie for adult hasn’t been done in a while, and you could still get all the horrible casting choices in there, with less of a time commitment from the actors. But that would be more of a plan B, because I really think that Stephen Moyer might just kick ass as Roland. And as long as I’m righting an essay here, you could basically cherry-pick the cast of The Dark Tower from the cast of Trueblood.

      • Yes, I am so pathetic that I reply to my own comments. I did a little homework, and found that not only have I possibly misused the term ‘cherry-pick’, but in the cast of Trueblood you can really only get two decent casting choices for DT. Stephen Moyer; Roland Deschain, and Rutina Wesley as Susanna Dean. In my defense, I smoke stuff. I would like to hear some more good casting ideas though, but the next person who mentions Clive Owen is going to get cyber-punched in the cyber-balls.

  2. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing. As a huge fan of the books I was really nervous about this project failing, but eager to see it made as well. I also agree that this would be a great HBO series after seeing Game Of Thrones pulled off in an unbelievable successful way.

    Also hope Mountains of Madness gets another crack with another studio willing to give it an R rating. Would have sucked toned down.

  3. So, hows that “Arrested Development Movie” coming Ron?

    • If Ron Howard signs up for that movie then I’d forgive him for The Dark Tower delay.

      Still think it would work better as a miniseries though like Game of Thrones.

      • Series I mean

  4. So why do they feel the need to do this “mini-series”? Just do it ALL as movies. I mean if Harry Potter can go on for 8 movies….EIGHT…..over the span of 10 years, why not the Dark Tower?

    I admit to not reading the series but is there really so much more material than Harry Potter that they can’t possibly turn this into 7-8 movies? At least this way if the first movie isn’t received well then they don’t have other assets already committed.

  5. I agree with the rest of you. I would rather see this as an HBO, Starz, or Showtime series. If it has to be on anything else, give me Syfy. NBC is probably the ones making the biggest fuss about everything. I hate NBC. Nothing But Crap.

  6. A Spy v Spy movie? A. Movie.

    For the love of all things why? :?

    IDK if there’s enough good content in the Dark Tower books for a series, a lot of them were pure filler imo and after King’s accident went a little downhill. I doubt the ending would be to many peoples taste either. It’s difficult to mention the bad parts without spoilers, so I won’t.

    Roland is a great character though, maybe with the right writer they could adapt it into a great film but following the books would be a mistake imo.

  7. Just focus on the Dark Tower. How can this guy make a good Dark Tower movie when he’s got about one hundred other crappy things being produced on the side. If you heard from the guy who brought you Spy vs Spy, the Dark Tower. That sounds like a bad joke but I guess it’s the truth. I have very little faith in Howard and his awesome script writer whose worked on such gems as Batman Forever, Lost in Space, and Practical Magic.

  8. This is not about Game of Thrones which is quite bad. Too much sex and nudity with no purpose and killing off the main character was horrible storytelling.

    Anyway, the Dark Tower is an awesome epic; truly worth whatever budget it receives. It would make an awesome mini series or a combination Movie/series as originally envisioned. Studios took a risk with Lord of the Rings after all. Hell make the first movie and see how it does, then make the series. It’s not hard…

    • “killing off the main character was horrible storytelling.”

      I didn’t klike this either when I read the book. Only got to see one episode of the series, but it was excellent. BUT…remember, this book/series is only the first chapter of a HUGE story so Ned, as much as he seemed to be, was obviously NOT the main character of the overall story. We’ll have to read/see the whole thing to find out who the “main” character really is. Kinda like LOTR…Turns out in the end, Sam is the hero, NOT Bilbo.

  9. Seems to me that someone may be having an “Ego” problem and because of-it can’t say “No”. Ron shouldn’t be agreeing to Everything that’s thrown his direction. This is just making a total mess out of what could All be Very-good-projects.
    I-myself am really anxious to see a “DarkTower” deal (Movies/Series/WhatEver). I just LOVE this series. What I’m Not anxious to see-is the whole project get-Scrapped because the chosen director has too-many Irons in the fire and can’t focus on One long-enough to push it through. Budgets and other issues can be hashed-out, but for something good to come out of it, you have to be involved 100% and willing to Devote your “UNdivided” attention to the project.
    I like Ron Howard and all…but I think something is a little fishy here…With this guys’ “Star-Power”, you mean to tell me these studios are going to Nickle and Dime HIS movie into the ground? Somethings’ not right about that either.