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Stephen King Blames PG-13 Focus for ‘The Dark Tower’ Collapse

While 2017 will be forever remembered as the year of Stephen King, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. Outside of the success of Warner Bros.’ IT and Netflix’s Gerald’s Game, the adaptation of his The Dark Tower series was not only a huge disappointment, but also box office flop. It performed so poorly that the entire planned universe is in ruins. King was incredibly supportive during the promotion of the Nikolaj Arcel-directed The Dark Tower, which starred  Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Taylor, but is now opening up about his own doubts about it, starting with the film’s rating.

“I liked everybody involved with that movie and I liked some of the casting choices for it,” King told EW. “I liked Modi Wiczyk, the producer, the director, everybody. So you know I’m always careful what I say about it.

“But I will say this, okay? The real problem, as far as I’m concerned is, they went into this movie, and I think this was a studio edict pretty much: this is going to be a PG-13 movie,” he continued. “It’s going to be a tentpole movie. We want to make sure that we get people in there from the ages of, let’s say, 12 right on up to whatever the target age is. Let’s say 12 to 35. That’s what we want. So it has to be PG-13, and when they did that I think that they lost a lot of the toughness of it and it became something where people went to it and said, Well yeah, but it’s really not anything that we haven’t seen before.”

Not only did they water down the film’s edginess, but the film completely broke apart the structure of King’s books and started in the middle of the entire story. King reveals that he expressed concern that fell on deaf ears.

“There was a decision made, too, to start it pretty much in the middle, and when they actually made the movie I had doubts about it from the beginning, and expressed them, and didn’t really get too far,” King stated.
“Sometimes when people have made up their mind, the creative team that’s actually going to go and shoot the movie, it’s a little bit like hitting your fist against hard rubber, you know? It doesn’t really hurt, but you don’t get anywhere. It just sort of bounces back. And I thought to myself, Well, people are going to be really puzzled by this, and they were. So there was some of that problem, too.”

King sounds like the nicest of guys, but he’s an expert a legend that deserves the utmost respect and it’s awfully frustrating to read that the king of horror’s opinion was brushed off. We can only hope that lessons are learned.

The Dark Tower only pulled in $50M here in the States and $111M worldwide on a modest $60M reported budget. Thankfully, IT’s box office success will keep the King adaptations coming. I hope there’s no end in sight.



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