Last fall, Deadline reported Universal Pictures and NBC Universal’s plans to make Stephen King’s epic Arthurian scifi western “The Dark Tower” novels into a trilogy of feature films and also a network television series.
Known as King’s magnum opus, the seven-book series follows gunslinger Roland Deschain on a perilous quest to find the dark tower. If you haven’t read the series, you should. “The Dark Tower” series is hands down King’s best work and for the life of me. I don’t know how he was able to construct such a complex and detailed story, much less continue the saga through eight books (the eighth novel will be released some time in 2012).
The ambitious film and television project appeared to be moving forward when last week it was reported Javier Bardem would portray Roland Deschain of Gilead. However, now Universal is on the verge of placing “The Dark Tower” into turnaround — meaning the project may not go forward, at least for now. Because of the estimated high price tag for such a major undertaking, Universal execs are nervous. There is concern the narrative won’t attract a broad audience. However, If done well, I could see “The Dark Tower” pulling in “Lord of the Rings” numbers.
Which brings me to this question: with Ron Howard directing and Javier Bardem as the lead character, could it?
I certainly have my doubts and here is why: I enjoyed Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons” and “The DaVinci Code,” but I felt the films were weak in comparison. Neither captured Brown’s great writing or tone. Even though Tom Hanks is a fantastic actor, I felt he was all wrong as Robert Langdon and his hair was a little ridiculous. As far as “The Dark Tower” is concerned, right out the gate Ron Howard makes an unwise decision by casting Javier Bardem as Deschain. Yes, the Oscar winning actor is good in anything he does, but he’s not a good fit. If Ron Howard read the series, he’d know Viggo Mortensen is the best choice. If not him, Timothy Olyphant or Karl Urban would be good alternatives.
Chances are the “The Dark Tower” project could end up with another studio. Warner Bros. would be the likely choice. At present, Warner Bros. is adapting “The Stand” for the big screen. Since one of the main characters from “The Stand” also appears in “The Dark Tower” several times, the studio behind “Harry Potter” should have produced this tale in the first place.
Additionally, with HBO under the Time Warner umbrella, there is no doubt the television series would at least look good. In fact, I would prefer the eight-volume chronicle run on the premium channel network instead. There is far too much story to condense into three films and bouncing from film to television and back again is too much of an undertaking if you ask me.
As for what this means for the films production schedule … its unlikely cameras will roll this fall. So to hold you over, I suggest reading or revisiting the “The Dark Tower” novels. In 2012, the eighth book titled, “The Dark Tower: The Wind Through The Keyhole”, will hit bookstores and by the time you’ve finished reading them all, hopefully “The Gunslinger” will be in theaters or at least have a release date.
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