We’ve been covering news about the long-in-development adaptation of The Dark Tower for over three years. The project really started to earn buzz when in September of 2010, Ron Howard and Universal Pictures outlined their ambitious plans to adapt the Stephen King series of novels into a trilogy of films and two seasons of television, all of which would maintain the same production values and principal cast.

Javier Bardem landed the lead role of Roland Deschain, the last living gunslinger and protagonist of the series, early last year, and since then development on The Dark Tower has been on a downward slope. Universal Pictures canceled The Dark Tower a year ago, but hopes were rekindled when Warner Bros. stepped up and began considering starting production on the project in early 2013.

Since then, Howard teased positive news, and now we may finally have some very soon. According to the latest report from Deadline, Warner Bros. will be making their decision on whether or not to tackle The Dark Tower franchise within the next two weeks – based on the latest script from Oscar winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman – and if they do, it’ll be with a different leading man. Bardem is out and replacing him may be Oscar winner Russell Crowe who Warner Bros. is actively chatting with for the part.

Crowe comes with experience in the Western genre, having starred opposite Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma and is a proven leading man, both in terms of acting chops and from a studio perspective, box office bankability. The timing couldn’t be better for Warner Bros. considering they already working with Crowe on next year’s Man of Steel where the New Zealander will play Superman’s Kryptonian father, Jor-El. The year following, Crowe will again step into the spotlight as the titular biblical figure in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah.

Warner Bros. has just lost their two biggest money-making franchises in Harry Potter and more recently, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, now that The Dark Knight Rises is in theaters. With so many question marks surrounding their next “big thing” in DC Entertainment after Green Lantern failed and with Man of Steel an uncertainty, they’re attempting to make up for it by stretching out The Hobbit by converting it into a trilogy with Peter Jackson.

With the success of The Lord of the Rings, the surefire success of The Hobbit will endure, The Dark Tower could give them another tentpole franchise, one that will earn unique attention thanks to its TV elements that could find a home on HBO where another fantasy period epic in Game of Thrones is highly successful.

Director Ron Howard, who’s spearheading The Dark Tower adaptation, previously worked with Crowe on A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man, both films of which were nominated for various Oscars (winning four, in the case of A Beautiful Mind). Crowe would make for a great leading man for the series and he may offer the push Warner Bros. needs to show some confidence in King’s series and Howard’s ability to adapt it with the help of Akiva Goldsman and producer Brian Grazer.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Deadline