After years of false starts, it looks as if Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is finally coming to movie theaters. And television screens. At the same time. Universal Pictures and NBC are teaming up for an extremely ambitious plan to turn King’s fantasy novel series into a franchise that will run through a feature film trilogy and multiple seasons of a television series running between movies.
Deadline Hollywood had the scoop yesterday that at least the initial movie and first television season (which will not necessarily be a full 22 episodes) will be directed by Ron Howard, with writing masterminded by Akiva Goldsman, the often-derided writer of A Beautiful Mind and Batman and Robin, amongst other projects (It’s worth pointing out that Goldsman has done some great work on JJ Abrams’ Fringe, and has been credited with bringing that series’ mythology forward from an original plan that would’ve seen more of a slow burn, a la Lost). Actors and characters will also cross between movies and the television series. Howard sees this as a logical next step from the trilogy structure of Peter Jackson’s 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.
According to Deadline, the current plan involves more than just adapting King’s novels, with the second season drawing from Marvel Comics’ spin-off comics, written (with input from King) by Robin Furth and Peter David. Goldman is apparently already at work on the script for the first movie, and Howard seems eager to get to work himself: “I’m finishing The Dilemma, and then I don’t have anything scheduled and I plan to work hard on this with Akiva and Brian [Grazer, Howard's producing partner].”
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