Fans of Stephen King's Dark Tower series were recently disappointed when it was revealed that Universal's ambitious adaption of King's series (which would unfold over the course of several years on both TV and movie screens) was in danger of collapse.
Well, perhaps "collapse" is a strong word: Universal's new owner, Comcast, came to the table wanting a second look at the Dark Tower project (costs and such) and decided to put the project on pause while they doa their due dilligence. However, according to director Ron Howard - who is shepherding the project along - things are not as ominous as they may seem.
As Howard told EW:
“We had to pull back to our September start date due to budget delays and ongoing story development and logistical issues, but Dark Tower is moving forward,...We’re thinking of starting in early spring now. I can’t really say who’ll be in it yet, but Javier Bardem has shown a great deal of interest. We’ll know by the end of the summer, when our flashing green light goes solid.”
Those who have been following this project's development will remember that Javier Bardem was locked for the lead role of gunslinger Roland Deschain - but with the delays in production, and the huge obligation a project of this scope would require, it seems like Bardem's involvement is far from a guarantee at this point. Howard was set to direct the first film based on a script by producer/writer/director Akiva Goldsman (Fringe, I Am Legend), and given his enthusiasm and vision for the project, I expect that Howard will stick around to at least try and see it through.
While three films and multiple interlocking TV series always seemed like a tall order for a project such as this, I think even the more casual movie fans were at least curious to see Universal's grand experiment in multi-media franchise building/ storytelling unfold. What worked for Dark Tower (or didn't) would likely have a significant impact on how studios like Marvel and DC/Warner Bros. went about building their superhero brands in the future. If Dark Tower's big/small screen approach was indeed an entertaining success, ultimately it would be we, the fans, who benefitted. (Imagine, seeing a great movie and then soon after being able to continue the journey from the comfort of your own home with a well-envisioned TV series. Pretty sweet.)
As summer unfolds I'm sure we'll be hearing more about the status of Dark Tower, who will be starring in it, who will be directing it, and if the multi-media approach will be kept. Stay tuned.