Stephen King's epic novel series The Dark Tower is practically begging to be adapted into either a movie or a TV series. Early in 2009 it was reported that J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company were going to be bringing the book series to the big-screen. However, late last year Abrams revealed he wouldn't be adapting the books after all.
But fear not Dark Tower fans as Deadline is reporting that Universal Pictures and NBC Universal have landed a deal to bring King's epic to life. If it wasn't exciting enough that King's "magnum opus" is finally being adapted (for real this time), the adaptation will come to us in the form of not only a whole trilogy of movies but also a coinciding TV series.
How exactly can a TV series coincide with a trilogy of movies? Well, the details are quite complicated when you first look at them but they break down fairly simply if you really study them:
Things will start off with the first in the movie trilogy and then that will be bridged onto the first season of the TV series which will follow fairly quickly thereafter. Then the second movie in the trilogy will follow on from where the first season of the series leaves off. After that second movie is done things will be bridged back to the series for the second season and then once that's done the story will continue on and conclude with the third part of the movie trilogy.
That's quite a plan that's been put together: They're counting on audiences being willing to go and see the first Dark Tower movie and then jump over to TV to find out what happens next (then doing the same thing again when it comes to the movie sequel and the second season), all the while committing more time and effort to follow the storyline (hour-long episodes week-on-week as opposed to a single 2-3 hour movie). While it may be somewhat risky it nonetheless shows that the people behind the adaptation have commitment and belief in their vision.
As for who's behind The Dark Tower adaptations on the creative side, Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) will direct the first feature film and the entire first season of the TV series and Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend) while write the first movie and the first season of the series. Both will produce the adaptations along with Howard's Imagine Entertainment partner, Brian Grazer and Stephen King himself (I guess the author wants to have a hand in seeing this get done right).
Howard and Goldsman first revealed they would be working with Universal to try and adapt The Dark Tower back in April but at the time the studio was battling it out with Warner Bros. for the rights. Evidently Universal has won out but it is said that the deal was so comprehensive that it's literally taken months to lock it down.
This strategy of taking the much-wanted Dark Tower adaptation completely head-on is being compared to what Peter Jackson did with his Lord of the Rings trilogy, where all three films were shot back-to-back so that they could be released within three years of one another. Because The Dark Tower trilogy of movies will coincide with the TV series (it sounds like you won't be able to watch one without tuning in for the other), that means the same actors that portray the characters on the big-screen will also have to be there for the small-screen version.
Does this mean we won't be seeing big name stars (Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, etc.) but rather lesser known names that would - most likely - be made into stars as a result of their participation in the Dark Tower franchise? For a story like this I would prefer less famous actors simply because it's such an immersive and expansive world King has created that I would rather not be distracted by A-listers filling up all the roles.
Crossing platforms like this also means the filmmakers will benefit from using the same crew and sets. This sounds like not only a highly ambitious undertaking (which hasn't really been done before) but also a very expensive one, so being able to keep the same sets and the talents of the same team throughout both the movies and the TV series will certainly save money where it counts.
It's certainly encouraging to see the sort of commitment that's been injected in this gargantuan adaptation. I think most of us can join together in hoping that all this is a success and that it does proper justice to King's much-loved series of Dark Tower books.
If you want to know more head on over to Deadline to read the thoughts of the people involved.