EXCLUSIVE: Universal may have turned off the lights on "The Dark Tower," but producer Brian Grazer, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and director Ron Howard are still hard at work on developing the property. Universal's worry about the Stephen King adaptation stemmed not only from the mammoth cost, but also the unprecedented vision, with a planned three-film cycle coupled with a television series to bridge the events of each picture. Last we heard the search was for outside financing, and then team with a studio to distribute the film. But, if the project is massively downgraded in scope, will studios be more eager to jump aboard?
We spoke to Brian Grazer during the "Tower Heist" press rounds today, and while we could only score a few moments with the prolific producer, he did inform us that the budget has been shaved way back, possibly to the project's benefit. “We found a way to cut out $45 million out of the budget without changing the scope and actually giving it a good ending," Grazer said, suggesting a heavily re-worked approach. "In the $140 million draft, the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying. Now, we’ve got $45 million, $50 million out of the way and a really satisfying ending. It’s gonna get made.”
What isn't clear is if Grazer is talking about the first, or the only installment. Have they scaled back the budget to least get the first film out the door or has the vision been changed to focus on one story in the larger universe of King's eight book series? We're guessing with Grazer saying that they've done it "without changing the scope," it's the former rather than the latter.
And while we're not terribly familiar with the source material, but we do know King books and his adaptations tend to struggle with endings. However, "the end" is such a nebulous concept when discussing what's supposed to be a massive multi-platform offering. With Howard moving on to shoot "Rush" and currently involved with a host of other potential projects, there's no clear idea of when this will move forward even with Grazer's assurance that "it's gonna get made." But with Javier Bardem still attached in the lead role of Roland Deschain, and with a scaled down budget, financing will likely be much easier to pull together and perhaps we'll see "The Dark Tower" kicked back to life sooner than we thought.