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'The Dark Tower' Still Alive At Universal, But Film Delayed And Budget Will Be Trimmed

by Oliver Lyttelton
May 13, 2011 12:09 PM
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There's no question, despite the somewhat vanilla nature of its director, that Ron Howard's planned adaptation of "The Dark Tower" is one of the most ambitious projects in years, if not ever. So, despite a trouble-free first few months for the project, we weren't entirely surprised by the rumors last week that Universal, who were meant to be backing the epic three-film, two-TV-series project, were getting cold feet over spiraling costs and were considering scrapping the film entirely.

It was reported that pre-production on the first film, which had landed Javier Bardem in the lead, and was already set for a late May release in 2013, had shut down, but we speculated when the news landed that Universal might try and keep the project alive, in a cheaper form, considering the hassle of pulling a new tentpole out of the ether. And indeed, Deadline reports today that the studio hasn't canceled the film altogether, but the original summer start date has slipped to next February.

Furthermore, as expected, execs, Howard and writer-producer Akiva Goldsman will use the intervening time to try and make the budget more manageable: not an easy task, considering that Bardem's on a hefty above-the-line deal, and that most of the actors will similarly need to be tied down for a period of years on the project. Whether this saves "The Dark Tower" remains to be seen: Deadline seems to suggest that Universal could still put the film into turnaround entirely if a middle ground can't be found.

On the plus side, this does free Bardem up for the Bond villain role that we'd assumed he'd be unavailable for, although Sam Mendes may have filled the position in the meantime. Maybe he can sneak in a quickie with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, so to speak? We imagine it'll be a few months before we hear any more firm information on the final fate of "The Dark Tower," but we are sort of glad that it's not entirely dead yet, if only because the sheer insanity of trying to mount the whole thing puts us on its side.

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