[This post contains MILD SPOILERS for the novel Wizard and Glass.]
During his vast career, Stephen King has created multiple worlds and characters, brought to life through novels that have entertained millions. It's hardly a surprise that his work translates so well to the screen, be it large or small, since King's novels are, for the most part, gripping, dramatic and often downright terrifying. In his Dark Tower series, King created some of his best literary characters to date, and it seems as though, at last, The Dark Tower will be given the cinematic adaptation it so richly deserves.
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, starring Idris Elba as Roland Deschain, aka The Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black, The Dark Tower movie is set to arrive in U.S. theaters in early 2017. However, the Dark Tower series of books spans a vast timeline and series of events, and to truly do King's epic work justice, more screen time would be needed. Ever since a Dark Tower movie was first mooted, the idea has been either for a series of films, or for an accompanying TV series to air with it.
It seems as though the latter has been decided upon, with EW reporting that sources from the production company MRC, and The Dark Tower film's co-producer and co-screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman have given details on a TV series - including which of King's novels from the series it will be based on.
The word is that MRC and Sony Pictures (which are releasing the film) have agreed to finance the project; not only a pilot, as is commonplace, but an entire run of 10-13 episodes (story arc dependent). The series would film in 2017 ready to air in 2018, ideally on a streaming platform. Rather conveniently, MRC already makes House of Cards for Netflix, so that could well be a viable option. As yet, no distributor has been found. Arcel and co-writer Anders Thomas Jensen are working on the script for the series and will serve as executive producers, but another name will be sought for showrunner. Regarding possible casting, EW also say that Elba has already signed on to appear again as Roland, with Tom Taylor set to also reprise his role of Jake Chambers, which he will debut in the film. McConaughey is not thought to have signed on just yet, but that doesn't mean he won't (especially with Elba and Taylor already onboard).
Onto the plot, then, and the series will essentially tell of the origins of Roland's story, which is often referred back to in the Dark Tower books, especially in The Gunslinger, which is the first book. However, the series will focus on one book specifically, Wizard and Glass, which is the fourth novel in the saga. While that may seem a strange choice, Wizard and Glass is a book that is really a prequel to the previous three novels, since most of it tells a story from Roland's past.
The framework for the series will be Roland has set up camp, with Jake and his other allies from previous books, near a 'thinny'; a place where reality has eroded and people can be sucked into its vortex, like a black hole. Roland tells the group about his experience with a thinny in his younger years, which then works into a tale of being sent by his father on a mission to the Barony of Mejis, a kingdom which exists in the same dimension as his homeland of Gilead. For reference, and to celebrate King's 69th birthday, a map of Mejis has been released, see below.
The Dark Tower TV show storyline will give way to a new actor being introduced as the younger Roland, while Elba plays the elder, and also for the Man in Black to take on a different appearance (also helpful if McConaughey doesn't sign on for any reason). Fans of the novels will recall that in Roland's younger years, the Man in Black was known as Marten Broadcloak, an adviser to Roland's father and also the man who seduced his mother. Evil to the core, Marten takes great delight in goading the young Gunslinger, even pushing him to take his gunslinger trials at a much younger age than he should have, thereby ensuring that he gets Roland's mother to himself. The TV series will also tell the story of how Roland fell for Susan Delgado, the only woman he has ever loved, as well as detailing the friendships he had with Alain and Cuthbert, relationships he lost along the way.
Goldsman describes the series thus:
“In the movie, Roland is suffering tremendous loss. The most concrete, personal, existential heartbreak a character can have. If the movie chronicles his final reach toward hope again, the TV show is the loss of that hope.”
While the Dark Tower film draws on varying elements from across the eight novels, the TV series (at least the first season) will follow Wizard and Glass more closely. If it's well received, a second season is certainly a strong possibility, and could even draw influence from the Dark Tower comics. With a name like Elba attached, and the potential for more big names in the other casting, the Dark Tower TV series could potentially do very well indeed, especially coming on the back of the film. The books themselves were, or still are, popular so fans of King's writing will watch a movie, but fans of Elba and McConaughey will also be drawn in, and MRC will be hoping they'll watch a series, too.
The Dark Tower (film) is set to arrive in U.S. theaters on February 17, 2017.