Stephen King’s fantasy western epic, The Dark Tower, is coming to the big screen — and to the small screen as well. In an unprecedented new deal, The Dark Tower’s seven books will be broken into three movies, and two seasons of a TV show. The story will begin with a movie, then continue the story for the next year as a TV show before returning to the big screen. After the second movie, the story will return to the TV as a prequel and origin for the hero Roland Deschain, then finish off with a big screen finale. Ron Howard, writer Akiva Goldsmith and producer Brian Grazer are all preparing to begin work immediately. The trio previously collaborated on 2001’s Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind.
The story of The Dark Tower follows Roland Deschain, the last surviving member of a knightly order known as the gunslingers, as he searches for the fabled Dark Tower, a nexus of all universes. King’s setting, Mid-World, is a mixture of post-apocalyptic, the Old West and magic. The world is in flux, and cities are known to disappear suddenly, while war has ravaged the land. It is a world that Howard and Goldman described as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.”
Discussions of a Dark Tower adaptation have been circulating for years, but recently there has been more interest in the series. King recently optioned the books to JJ Abrams and Lost showrunners Damon Lindelhof and Carlton Cuse, but they were unable to find a way to adapt the works and do it justice. Goldsmith then bought the rights when they became available, but faced similar problems until Howard suggested using both TV and film.
Besides the obvious challenges the series will face, notably the gamble that the first movie must be a success to justify the massive expenditure that the series will require, there are the unusual casting issues that will crop up. The main cast, including the actor that will play Roland, will be required to film three movies, and at least one full season worth of TV, although the length of the season has not been confirmed. The second season of the show will be a prequel, and show a younger — and almost certainly recast — Roland, but other cast members may be required to appear. The prequel will be based on a Dark Tower comic book that King helped to plot.
According to Deadline, the deal has been finalized, and work should begin shortly. Howard will direct both the first movie and most, if not all, of the TV show, while Goldsmith will write both the first movie and plot the first season of the show. Both might return for the second movie and beyond, but as of now they have only confirmed the depth of their involvement for the first movie and season. Howard and Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment will produce the full series with Goldsmith.
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