It looks like Stephen King’s column with Entertainment Weekly has freed him from closely guarding the film and television rights to The Dark Tower series and has allowed for Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment to close a deal to make a feature film trilogy and a network TV series. Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsmith, and Brian Grazer will be shepherding the project: Howard is set to direct, Goldsmith to write, and Grazer to produce. Goldsman had first mentioned The Dark Tower to Howard and Grazer while they worked on A Beautiful Mind nearly a decade ago.
According to Deadline’s Mike Flemming, the plan is to start with the feature film, and then create a bridge to the second feature with a season of TV episodes. That means the feature cast—and the big star who’ll play Deschain—also has to appear in the TV series before returning to the second film. After that sequel is done, the TV series picks up again, this time focusing on Deschain as a young gunslinger. Those storylines will be informed by a prequel comic book series that King was heavily involved in plotting. The third film would pick up the mature Deshain as he completes his journey. They will benefit from being able to use the same sets cast and crew for the movie and TV, which could help contain costs on what will be a financially ambitious undertaking.
King’s series is actually still ongoing with an eight book currently being written. Extra material in the form of comics produced by Marvel, and histories written by Robin Furth and Stephen King have come out in the past few years fleshing out the already rich universe.
The books follow Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger in a world that has “moved on.” He quests to find The Dark Tower, the cosmic linchpin that holds together the multiverse and is currently in danger from the malevolent and mysterious Red King.
This is an ambitious project and probably the only way to do justice to King’s rich, incredible story. I place the Dark Tower series on the same level as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and I’m cautiously excited about the project. The fact that Howard, Goldsman, and Grazer are working on it gives me hope that this will live up to the high bar King has already set.
So what do you think? Who should play Roland? Eddie? Jake? Susannah? As far as I’m concerned, Viggo Mortensen is perfect to play ol’ “tall, dark, and ugly.”
Tags: J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Marvel Comics, Ron Howard, Stephen King, Viggo Mortensen