‘Dark Tower’ Adaptation Faces Uncertain Future

Fans of Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ series have been asking for a big screen adaptation for years. Universal Studios officially announced a unique plan for the project back in November, but just when fans finally thought that they were sure to see their wish come true, a huge wrench has been thrown into the gears.

Universal’s plan for ‘The Dark Tower’ was to include Imagine Entertainment and NBC. The first film would be released theatrically, after which a season-long TV series would run on NBC that connected to the second theatrical film. After the second film hit theaters, another season of the TV series would run connecting the second film to the third. This platform-crossing project was hoped to bring in higher revenue for the studios, as well as allow the series to remain faithful to King’s extensive novels without having to make several lengthy films.

The first films and the first episode of TV series were set to be directed by Ron Howard. Javier Bardem had been in negotiations to play the lead character in at least the first film and TV series.

Just over a week ago, The Hollywood Reporter broke news that Comcast, the new owners of Universal Studios, had “serious budget issues with the massive project.” Sources claim that “the project was in trouble and on the verge of being put in turnaround” because of the extremely high cost of production. Although Universal wouldn’t comment on the rumors, Imagine said that the claims were false.

On Friday, THR reported that ‘The Dark Tower’ would remain with Universal and that a compromise was in the works. Director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and writer Akiva Goldsman are rewriting the script and changing the direction of the franchise with the intention of lowering the expensive costs, ultimately pleasing the studio’s owner.

While filming was originally set to start this fall, a new start date has not yet been announced. It is also unknown as to whether the rewritten script and re-imagining of the previous plan will still include a two-season NBC series.

What do you ‘Dark Tower’ fans out there make of this?


  1. Jay

    It sounds bad to me. I still wish it was in the hands of Frank Darabont and being done as an HBO mini-series. It’s the only way I can see it being what I want it to be.

    • Luke Hickman

      Have you read the series? I am completely unfamiliar with it. Agreed, I think Darabont is the only guy who should be allowed to adapt King, but what is it that sounds so bad to you about this idea? Ron Howard?

      I’m neutral on this whole thing, so I am looking to understand the perspective of King fans.

      • I went through a Stephen King phase in high school and read the first three books in this series. There was a long gap between the third book and when the fourth was published. By that time, my interest had drifted to other things.

        As I recall, the first book was the least interesting. If Howard’s entire plan hinges on the first movie being enough of a hit to justify sequels and TV series, that’s a very dangerous position to put himself in. If that movie bombs, he’s already committed the network to a TV series that nobody’s going to want to watch.

        The only way to do this right is to handle it like Game of Thrones. Adapt it as a premium channel cable series, one season per book. (Maybe Showtime would want it?)

        The first book isn’t exciting enough for a feature film, and the later books are too confusing and weird for mainstream network television.

      • Jay

        I read the series a few years back and loved it. As with most King books, there is a large amount of adult subject matter that could really only be done justice with an R rating. So, when you get down to it, a network TV show really can’t show a lot of what is in the books they would cover. This approach also makes me wonder if they would be shooting for a PG-13 rating for the films. I’m a fan of Ron Howard. It’s nothing against him. He is hit or miss though. Plus the casting of Bardem just wouldn’t fit Roland to me at all. To me Darabont is the only person to prove he can do King consistently well.

  2. Ron Howard is entirely the wrong director for this. While his plan to alternate between feature films and TV seasons is ambitious, it would also undoubtedly just confuse the majority of the audience.

    Would the TV show make sense if you hadn’t seen the first movie? Would the second movie make sense if you hadn’t seen the first TV season? Etc.

    What happens if the TV show is a ratings bomb and the network cancels it without completing the season? What happens to the following movie then?

    This just seems like a terrible, terrible idea.

    • Luke Hickman

      I imagine that all of these variables are the things scaring Comcast about the budget. It’s risky business. An awesome idea, but risky.

      • Why the hell buy NBC in the first place then, if your just going to meddle with the creative side. This only goes to prove that Comcast is only about one thing, the money they can drain out of their customers and save by killing good programming.

        • Oh, I don’t think that was ever in doubt.

          Regardless, there was basically no way this show could work on NBC anyway. It was doomed to failure even if Comcast supported it.

  3. Josh pretty much hit the nail on the head…it’s an interesting concept to media-types like us, but the audience that is loyal to a TV show isn’t the same audience that goes out to the movies, and vice versa. Then you get into problems if the movie flops (and you have 22 episodes of TV to burn) or if the TV show flops (and you have a movie coming out that no one wants to see).

    The only thing vaguely close to this I can recall is when THE X-FILES had a movie come out in between seasons 5 and 6. I suppose that was a “sucessful” effort, but I can’t imagine going back and forth between feature films and a TV series over the course of several years could possibly “work”.

  4. I would rather see them dump the movies altogether and just do a TV series like The Walking Dead. It would probably have to be on HBO or Starz because of the content of the books. There is no way to fit it all in 3 or even 4 films.

    • just finished DT-5 so with it fresh in my mind, forget the idea of a mass appealing film. given the material in the books i doubt it would ever be ‘true’ enough for king fans. too much hollywood creative license in the content i fear. HBO or Starz would be the way to go, it would allow the detail the story demands.

  5. So in an era where Game of Thrones proves how a series is the only way that books like the Dark Tower could be done properly. Movies always compromise unless spearheaded by a true visionary like Peter Jackson and being given the right amount of time per movie, while also allowing for Extended versions to be released after the initial TV run.

    So trying to restrict the budget even further is completely the wrong way to handle this. Good job Comcast, you’ve owned NBC for about a week now and already your screwing up the primary goal of purchasing it.


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