Here we have some news that’s so massive, it almost seems made up; like there’s no possible way the whole plan will come together as they want it to. In any case, if this announcement even partially plays out, it could be one of the most exciting book-to-film/TV adaptations we’ve ever seen.
It’s been announced that Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television have closed a juggernaut of a deal that will see them backing an adaptation of Stephen King‘s seven-book series and prequel comic book, The Dark Tower, into not only a movie but a whole trilogy of films and a full TV series. Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard will direct and Akiva Goldsman will write the first film and first season of the series.
The deal is unheard of, and the strategy to produce it is even more unheard of. Their current plan is to film a lot of it at the same time, much like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. The first film will be released, and will be followed by the first season of the TV series which will bridge to the second film. This is to ensure that the adaptation will not only have that big budget feel it needs, but that all of those smaller but crucial details and storylines that are usually sacrificed to fit a theatrical run time will still be utilized in the series. After the first season is completed, the second movie will then be released, and will be followed by a second season of the series that will focus on the prequel comic book by Marvel. After that, of course, comes the third and final movie to wrap up the story.
The first major complication will be in casting the lead actor. With such a huge budget expected, they’ll need a decent star to help sell the movies, but also someone willing to star in the TV series as well. Again, the second season will be based on the prequel comics and a younger actor will probably be cast for that, but nevertheless, finding an actor willing to do three films and a full TV season should be tricky. As for the budget, they will be able to use the sets they build and actors they cast for the series as well, so that should help keep the costs down a little.
Here’s what Howard had to say about the deal and the comparisons to Lord of the Rings:
What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history. The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.
The Dark Tower is described by Howard and Goldsman as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone” in which a gunslinger sets off on a quest to find the Dark Tower in order to save a civilization from destruction.
I’m not familiar with the books, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that it’s hard not to be really buzzed for this. To see a major motion picture adapted from such a popular series of novels, and to know that a whole season of TV is right behind it to keep the story going before two more movies and another season of TV come around…it’s just a movie/TV show fan’s dream come true.
Imagine Entertainment team Howard, Goldman, and Brian Grazer will be producing all around along with Stephen King.