Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Dark Tower


For those of us who have read the entire Dark Tower saga, news that it was going to brought to the big (and small) screens has had a two pronged effect:

  1. Elation
  2. Horror!
It was announced in September of last year that the Dark Tower movies were finally going ahead, with Ron Howard taking on the daunting task of bringing Roland Deschains world/time (as well as Eddies, Susannahs etc) to life in film. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise to me, mostly because it had been long heard something was going to be made, but the news was stagnant. Bringing 7 books to film, as has been proven with Harry Potter, is no easy feat; keeping key actors through 7+ movies, adapting broad story arcs to fit the limited time film gets, deciding what is omitted etc. So what are they to do?

From the LA Times, September 9, 2010.
In an unconventional move, Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" -- comprising seven novels, short stories and comic books -- will be made into both three films and a television series.
The unique deal will have Ron Howard directing the first film in the trilogy and the first season of the TV series, Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment announced Wednesday afternoon.
"The Dark Tower" centers on the sole survivor in a line of knightly gunslingers, Roland Deschain, who has been charged with finding a Dark Tower in order to save humanity.
The first film will be quickly followed by the television series, which will lead to the second film. The TV series will then resume until the third film is released. No word yet on when production is slated to begin on the first film.

Preliminary Outline for the Films/TV Series
This is not going to be a direct book-to-screen adaptation and is even going to involve King writing additional content, in the form of a prequel comic book.
Howard and co. are still hashing out the details but the initial plan seems to be;
  • Feature Length Film #1 
  • TV Season (used as a bridge to…)
  • Feature Length Film #2
  • TV Season(s) (it’s unclear how many)
  • Feature Length Film #3 
Not a lot has been said about the TV series, which would be shown between the second and third movies, other than that the story in Season 2 will evolve around Roland as a young Gunslinger, with King’s prequel comic book series being released to fill out the storyline.
The dedication the cast will need to make for this project would predict that we’ll not see anysuperstars, which will probably be for the better as we’ll have fewer preconceptions over who they choose to play Roland.
One final piece of good news is that Howard has given priority to the project. Akiva Goldsman is writing the script as we speak and both Howard and Grazer have cleared all other projects to make sure they can get started on this as soon as possible.
Howard is currently in production on “The Dilemna”, due for release in January, so we could expect filming on The Dark Tower to begin as early as 2011.

So. Based on that, the Elation

The Dark Tower series is, without hyperbole, most genuinely the greatest story I've ever read. I've read all 7 books twice through now, own almost all of the comic series, and have a copy of the Complete Concordance by Robin Furth. It is an absolutely amazing journey through the brilliant mind of Stephen King. It's one of those stories where you just let yourself be taken away; you open to the page marker, and get ready to be thrown into time and place.

To hear the news that someone has taken on the daunting task of bringing Dark Tower to life is amazing. I can't wait to see how the vision I have of Roland's world compares to someone else's. I can't wait to be able to immerse myself in the story, the characters, and everything all over again. I'm excited that it will bring the books to a new light, and maybe new fans (I know I have a few friends who write off (no pun intended) King by saying "not interested in stories about killer toasters"). I can't wait.

The Horror?

Oh shit, they're making Dark Tower into movies! So much can go wrong with projects like this; terrible acting, horrible writing, cheesy lovey shit, bad or overused effects, etc. In one fell swoop, the entire thing can be ruined. Imagine if Lord of the Rings had been made by Michael Bay. Picture Transformers of the Rings. Not pretty. This could be either the greatest, or the worst. It's a fine line.

That said, I do have faith in Ron Howard to do the project right. He has an excellent track record making movies that effect the perfect mood ie: A Beautiful Mind, Backdraft, Parenthood, Willow. These are all great films. I wasn't as big a fan of Da Vinci code, but let's be honest here, Dan Brown is nowhere near Stephen King in the writing department. Howard did what he could with it as far as I'm concerned, and I believe he will have a lot more to work with for this project, especially given King's offerings to the project which should set the course correctly.

Part of the fun for the fans so far has been playing the actor game. Who IS going to play Roland Deschain? Most had pegged Viggo Mortensen for the job since LOTR. Then there were rumblings of Christian Bale. And then?

Call it.
Ron Howard may have his sights set on Javier Bardem for the lead in his cross-platform, multi-part film and television adaptation of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series. Deadline is reporting that Bardem has been offered the part of Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger.

Envisioned as three films and a television series (to star the same cast), The Dark Tower will bring to the screen King's fantasy epic that spreads across seven published novels. Howard plans to direct the first part of the series and would at least oversee the rest of the massive adaptation.

Bardem most recently appeared in Biutiful in a part that has landed him an Academy Award nomination. (He previously won a Best Supporting Actor award for his part in 2008's No Country for Old Men).

The Dark Tower has a tentative release date of May 17, 2013.

Read more: Javier Bardem Offered Dark Tower Lead? -
Perfect. Well, I think Daniel Day-Lewis would have been the greatest choice, but I don't think you can go wrong with the steady, firm dealing Javier Bardem. This pick shows me that the people behind this movie franchise are serious about it. With a big name oscar winner such as Bardem as the flagship on this, the rest of the project will hopefully fall into place just as nicely.

As noted above, the first movie has a tentative release date of May 17, 2013. Those of you who haven't read the Dark Tower yet, I highly, highly suggest you go out and at least buy the first book. Read it, and see if you aren't swept into the magically twisted Old West realm Roland resides in, as it grabs you with its opening line:

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.


  1. Huge post.

    I'm afraid that is all I can say because I have never (nor plan to) read this series.
    I'm sure the massive talent involved for the screen will make me watch it, but King is dead to me.

  2. This sounds very promising imo.
    I'll have to disagree with Rorshach.

  3. Will probably get into The Dark Tower one day...