Once upon a time (read: perhaps five years ago), producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's idea to adapt Stephen King's The Dark Tower books into a multi-platform franchise - one including perhaps a movie trilogy and a companion television show - sounded like wishful thinking, at best. Today, in the age of the Hollywood Cinematic Universe (see: Marvel, DC, LEGO), that's no longer the case - and following what has begun to approach a decade of delays, it may be Roland Deschain's time at last.
The first Dark Tower film adaptation is now under the watch of Sony and MCR, having previously been picked up (and later dropped) by such big-time studios as Warner Bros. and Universal. A fresh update on the situation reveals that a new script - penned by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner (collaborators on the TV show Fringe) - has been completed, so the search is now underway for a filmmaker to call the shots.
The Wrap reports that Sony and MCR are co-financing what could be the first of multiple Dark Tower movies, while MCR is also developing the companion TV show that would interconnect with the plot threads in the Dark Tower feature films. Elsewhere, THR reports that this new script from Goldsman and Pinkner is a "totally re-conceived" version of the previous screenplay draft ( both based on the first published Dark Tower novel, "The Gunslinger") that was put together.
Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Tom Rothman commented on the matter as follows:
“There are few projects out there that compare with the scope, vision, complex characters and fully drawn world that Stephen King has created with 'The Dark Tower'. I am a giant fan. And, as Stephen himself does, we love the direction that Akiva and Jeff have taken. This is a great opportunity for a director to put his or her stamp on a cool global franchise.”
King has issued his own statement, in response to the latest Dark Tower news:
"I’m excited that The Dark Tower is finally going to appear on the screen. Those who have traveled with Roland and his friends in their search for the Dark Tower are going to have their long-held hopes fully realized. This is a brilliant and creative approach to my books."
Dark Tower, for those unfamiliar, is a genre-blending saga that currently spans eight books and revolves around Roland Deschain - a "Man With No Name" loner type who belongs to an order of warriors known as Gunslingers - and the characters/places he encounters on his journey to find the mystical Dark Tower. Potential casting choices for Deschain over the years have ranged from Russell Crowe to Javier Bardem, while Aaron Paul was once approached to play the recovering drug addict Eddie Dean (a key supporting character in the story).
The short of it: there's a lot of good mythology to cover in a cinematic take on the Dark Tower literature - and in an era of cable TV series like Game of Thrones or the upcoming Preacher, there's no reason a companion series (which could help to cover more ground) is less deserving of being done artistic justice on the small screen. It sounds as though the Dark Tower movie(s) and televisions show will very much have respectable production values too, to better help properly bring King's fantasy setting to life.
Dark Tower, should the first film adaptation prove to be successful enough to warrant continuation, also has enough rich source material to really sustain the relatively small "Shared Universe" that's being actively mapped out right now. But, of course, that will depend to no small degree on how the script(s) handles said material - and who ends up being hired to, respectively, star and direct.
Time to start nominating your dream candidates, Dark Tower fans...
We'll bring you more information on The Dark Tower when we have it.