With 8 books and close to 10 years of on again, off again development to draw from, the upcoming Sony film adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower has an almost limitless number of options with which to approach the telling of its story. The long-gestating project from director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) already has a lot of promise behind it, though, in the form of its leads, Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, who will star as the Man in Black and Roland the Gunslinger, respectively.
While King has already revealed that the film's plot structure will "start in the middle of the story, rather than the beginning," (drawing from King's most recent Dark Tower entry, 2012's The Wind Through The Keyhole, in doing so), fans of his series have remained curious nonetheless in regards to what specific storylines from which novels will make it into the final cut.
Thankfully, EW has passed along some non-spoilery details describing exactly what we can expect to see from each of the 8 Dark Tower novels on the big screen. According to EW, 1982's The Gunslinger will serve as "the backbone" of the film, while its 1987 follow-up, The Drawing of the Three, will "probably be saved for another film, since the characters Eddie and Susannah...are being saved for a future movie."
Interestingly, it seems that a big part of The Dark Tower will draw from 1991's The Waste Lands:
The movie features one of this book’s most memorable set-pieces – Dutch Hill, a decrepit Brooklyn mansion that literally comes alive to protect a portal to Mid-World. Both film and novel also include a lot of Jake’s life in New York, with Vikings actress Katheryn Winnick playing the boy’s mother, who fears the visions her son is having about a gunslinger, a Man in Black, and an ethereal Tower are signs of a psychological breakdown.
Additionally, the majority of 1997's fourth book, Wizard and Glass, "is being saved for a possible TV series," while 2004's titular installment in the saga will also be saved for future movies -- though its ending will be "featured prominently" in the beginning of the upcoming film. In other words, King's recent reveal that the film(s) will actually serve as a sequel to the books has been further confirmed.
Given the rocky history that a movie adaptation of The Dark Tower has seen up to this point, it seems like Sony is almost intentionally tempting fate in planning out multiple movies and even a potential TV series before the first film has hit theaters. Although fiercely popular in its own right, The Dark Tower series doesn't exactly possess the kind of brand recognition or drawing power as The Hunger Games or even the Divergent series among key filmgoer demographics, meaning its success at the box office is not a sub thing.
Then again, Arcel is clearly facing a bit of an uphill struggle in terms of source material, mainly in that there's simply so much of it that will need to be narrowed down or cut out entirely in order to fit it into the two and a half hour time window - and it's hard to fault him for the ambition he has already displayed in going about it. In either case, it's obviously too early to tell whether or not The Dark Tower will live up to the lofty aspirations of those involved.
The Dark Tower is set to be released on February 17, 2017.