Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ won’t be a movie after all

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What will it take to get Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ series adapted for screen? Apparently, a pile of gold statuettes, a boffo box office track record and the fans who’ve bought 30 million copies of the books that make up the series won’t be enough.

This week, Universal pulled the plug on an A-list production that was planned to have an innovative release: three feature films and two limited-run TV series. In January, Comcast took over the studio, and the ownership change may have led to a new frugality that didn’t mesh with ‘The Dark Tower,’ a sprawling sci-fi/western/horror/fantasy epic.


The now-canceled ‘The Dark Tower’ had seriously heavy hitters on its side. Javier Bardem (one Oscar, one SAG Award) was set to star. The project had been cooked up by screenwriter Akiva Goldman (one Oscar, one Golden Globe) and Ron Howard (two Oscars, two DGA Awards), who was slated to direct.

‘We worked on it for a year before we even met with [Stephen King],’ Howard told Hero Complex in December 2010. ‘It was all about putting something together that was good enough and getting such an understanding of the material that Stephen King would say, ‘Yes, that’s the way into this story.’

For his part, King was enthusiastic. In a statement, he said, ‘I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world. Ron, Akiva, Brian [Grazer] along with Universal and NBC have a deep interest and passion for ‘The Dark Tower’ series and I know that will translate into an intriguing series of films and TV shows that respect the origins and the characters in ‘The Dark Tower’ that fans have come to love.’

King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ series began in 1982 with ‘The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger’ and includes six other novels, totaling 3,795 pages. In addition to the 30 million copies the books have sold, Marvel Comics has released a number of related graphic novels, and there is an online game and a published concordance about the Dark Tower world.

King has announced that the eighth book in the series, ‘The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole’ is on its way. Will the cancellation of the screen adaptations of the series mean any changes in the planned 2012 publication date?

And is there really no one in Hollywood who can keep the screen version of ‘The Dark Tower’ alive?


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-- Carolyn Kellogg