Dark Tower Adaptation in Studio Trouble -- Where Should It End Up?

Dark Tower Adaptation in Studio Trouble -- Where Should It End Up?

May 06, 2011

Any adaptation of Stephen King's truly epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower, is bound to run into some troubles along the way to the big screen. That's just inevitable when you're dealing with a total of seven books, which are several thousand pages combined, that are densely packed with wild characters and even wilder stories and set design. So when Universal announced that they were partnering with Imagine Entertainment to produce a series of films and TV series based on TDT, it seemed like someone had finally figured out how to crack the adaptation: throw a ton of money at it.

As it turns out, however, Universal is suddenly realizing that maybe they can't quite afford to throw a ton of money at it. Or, more likely, Universal's new parent company, Comcast, which picked up the studio after they announced their Dark Tower plans, realized they don't want to make that kind of a financial commitment to an unproven film/TV franchise. Just two days ago, a Comcast earnings call revealed that the company was willing to dump $300 million into NBCUniversal to revamp the TV side of things, but in regard to Universal's film deal, NBCU chief Steve Burke flat out said, "We have to make better films." So while Variety is reporting that NBCU may put TDT into turnaround, common sense (and Comcast's earning report) say that they will absolutely put TDT into turnaround.

So where, if anywhere, should the ambitious project end up? Imagine Entertainment has had some big box office hits with The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, and perhaps they'll have a hit with this summer's Cowboys & Aliens, but there's just no way they can afford to make a mammoth production like this all by themselves. The deal was perfect with NBCU, because the TV series portion of it could easily air on NBC, but there aren't very many other studios who can take advantage of that kind of vertical integration. Sure, Fox and CBS are both also in the big-screen business, but considering CBS is more family-friendly than most and Fox can't even get a movie based on 24 off of the ground, it's highly unlikely they'll want to inherit the project.

Without someone like Fox on board, chances are that the TV series aspect of TDT will either get scrapped or seriously cut back. DreamWorks does have a television division, but their slate over the next few years is already pretty taxed with hopefuls like The River, Locke & Key, Smash and Falling Skies. However, if the stars aligned, a deal with DreamWorks Television and DreamWorks/Paramount is probably the best deal TDT is going to get at this point. Paramount's only real film franchises these days all revolve around superheroes, so it'd be nice to see them branch out a bit.

But what say you? Where would you like to see The Dark Tower end up? I'm not talking about who you want to see making it, because unless Imagine Entertainment gives up their option to the movie, Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman are (regrettably) going to be involved. The question at hand is under what conditions they'll be able to make it. Should it stay theatrical only? Is the TV show even a good idea? Can The Dark Tower ever even be done properly?

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