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Universal puts The Dark Tower staff on hiatus as budgetary concerns loom

Ron Howard’s ambitious take on the Stephen King series, The Dark Tower, may turn out to be a little too ambitious for Universal Pictures. Howard’s plan is to take the seven book series and adapt it into three feature length movies and two TV mini-series to air between the films. The cast would be under contract to star in the three films and the first TV mini-series, while the second TV outing would be a prequel and feature a younger cast in the same roles. Javier Bardem has officially been offered the role of the series’ protagonist, Roland, and negotiations are–or perhaps were–underway.

According to a report from Deadline, the project is now in danger due to a ballooning budget, which may mark the end of The Dark Tower at Universal. The studio recently put the pre-production staff on hiatus as they address the costs with director/producer Ron Howard, Imagine Entertainment and writer/producer Akiva Goldsmith. The staff has reportedly been told that there is a chance they will resume work soon, but the proposed September start date of filming seems to have been scrapped entirely.

Universal recently scrapped another high profile project, Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness, which was set to begin filming this month with James Cameron attached to produce, Tom Cruise set to star and a budget of $150 million. The film was an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft horror novella of the same name, which Lovecraftian fans will know means that there would not be a happy ending or a romantic angle. Universal tried to pressure del Toro into releasing the film as PG-13, but the director refused. In March, Universal completely scrapped the project. Del Toro is currently pitching it to other studios.

There are options for The Dark Tower though. Universal could bring on a partner to help with the financing, or the project may scale back its ambitions—possibly dropping the TV crossovers. But if Universal continues to balk at the price tag, Howard, Imagine and Goldsmith may shop the project around, possibly to Warner Bros., where Goldsmith’s production company currently has a deal in place.

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