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'The Dark Tower' Dies, As Universal Pulls The Plug On Ambitious Multi-Platform Adaptation

by Gabe Toro
July 18, 2011 12:24 PM
9 Comments
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"The Dark Tower" has crumbled to the ground.

Universal's multi-tier adaptation of the Stephen King book series just proved to be far too ambitious for the studio to tackle. Filming on the beginning of a three film, two-TV series cycle was to start this summer, then next February, but it looks like Uni couldn't find a way to keep the costs down.

The next step -- do director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman take the project to another studio? And will they be able to retain their one star, Javier Bardem, to play Roland Deschain? Seems doubtful, as that's a huge commitment, one that Universal as trying to shortchange by opting for only one movie, a prospect turned down by producers Goldsman, King and Brian Grazer.

Universal, formerly a genre-friendly place, is in a curious spot. After years of expensive misfires that did not recoup ("The Wolf Man," "Green Zone," "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World"), earlier this year, the studio played it safe by putting the kibosh on Guillermo Del Toro's "At The Mountains Of Madness," budgeted at $150 million. Weirdly, however, they are going forward with "47 Ronin" and "Battleship," both of which, according to Deadline, have massive $200 million budgets. We're not sure what they're thinking trusting a first-time director on "Ronin" but "Battleship" definitely worries in that it's the opening shot in a planned Universal board game onslaught that will include fall 2012's "Ouija" and upcoming "Candyland" and "Stretch Armstrong" adaptations. If Del Toro and Howard want to point fingers, perhaps Hasbro is the culprit here.

As for Howard, this frees him up to re-team with "Frost/Nixon" writer Peter Morgan for "Rush," which currently has Chris Hemsworth ready to star. Beyond that, Howard's also developing a "Spy Vs. Spy" movie as well as the mysterious "Amnesty" project. Akiva Goldsman, meanwhile, continues to be a cancer on Hollywood.

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9 Comments

  • MC | July 19, 2011 4:24 AMReply

    I'm still trying to figure out what the big expense is going to be.
    CGI will be Shardik, the portals, Blaine the train and the environmental effects of his speed (example: ripping the skin off the mutated deer as he passes because of his backdraft), the beams, demons...
    All this stuff is what...20 mins worth of CGI?

    Shoot part 1 and see how it is received by audiences? Get Hugh Jackman to play Roland. He looks like Clint Eastwood when he was young and that's what Steven King described Roland as looking like.

    Common sense. Dur.

  • StephenM | July 19, 2011 3:07 AMReply

    Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman were the wrong men for the job from the beginning. Everybody knew it. At least now we won't have it butchered any time soon.

    I think they should try doing it just as a series. Or even with one movie, and then a series. But this multi-platform, back-and-forth thing was just never going to work.

    I love the books. If they're going to adapt them, they've gotta do it right, in a serious way that doesn't compromise the vision.

  • BuntyHoven | July 19, 2011 2:39 AMReply

    It never sounded like it was feasible. Just the weirdness of splitting it across platforms. It's hard enough to launch a movie franchise or a successful TV series these days, let alone trying to launch them both together. What network would want to bank on screening part 2 of a story that most of their audience won't have bothered to see at the theater?

    Either make a movie franchise or a Game of Thrones-style TV thing - don't try both. Can't blame Universal for passing on this one.

  • Carson Dyle | July 19, 2011 1:52 AMReply

    It's probably for the best. There's pretty much no chance that it's going to get a franchise treatment without being heavily sanitized.

    And now ultra-hacks Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman can't get near it.

  • Sean | July 19, 2011 1:46 AMReply

    Instead they'll make a movie about vampires. Or whatever is super popular right now.

    Actually, I'm not that phased about this. The books are good but I really don't like the idea of Ron Howard behind it.

  • KT | July 19, 2011 1:29 AMReply

    Haha. I. Can't. Breathe.

    This shit was getting hyped up for months, seemed like a done deal, now it's dropped like Lindsay Lohan.

    Hollywood is such a fickle beast.

  • Kevin | July 19, 2011 1:26 AMReply

    Actually, this kind of move prevents heads from rolling. Universal has been taking chances and losing on ambitious projects for the past two years. Not shocked at all they're pulling the plug on a hugely expensive gamble.

  • jimmiescoffee | July 19, 2011 1:25 AMReply

    very disappointing. i guess 'harry potter' proved fantasy is dead with it's lackluster boxoffice performance.

  • taptup | July 19, 2011 1:22 AMReply

    They clearly need some heads to roll up there.

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