Back in May, Universal put Ron Howard’s three film and TV miniseries Dark Tower plans on hold so they could address budget concerns. The studio proceeded as if nothing was wrong, in hopes that they could work this out (there was even some speculation that they were looking for a second studio to help foot the bill), but nobody has really said too much about since. Until now.
In a recent interview with Deadline for Imagine Entertainment’s silver anniversary, Ron Howard and producing partner Brian Grazer chatted about the current state of their Stephen King franchise, which they are still going ahead with, despite the hold-ups.
“If you’re not out there taking some risks, if you’re just coasting along with your wins, then you’re not really trying,” Howard told Deadline. “But we never take risk for risk’s sake. The Dark Tower seemed like such a good idea to both of us that it became impossible not to try it. It’s impossible to live with ourselves if we don’t take the swing.”
We could have tried to force all of it into one or two or three movies. It became clear to me that the medium of TV has become so bold and cool, we could use it to our advantage creatively and really fulfill the possibilities of this universe of characters King gave us to work with. We can use the intimacy of television when that’s appropriate, and the scope and scale of the big screen with the bigger fantasy ideas. We discovered elements that would probably never have a home either on the big screen or on TV, but would make fantastic narrative gaming opportunities that won’t rehash the movies or TV, but have its own material borne out of the books and graphic novels.”
The budget concerns, which seem to be the root of the project’s development hell problems, are currently being worked on. But Grazer is confident a tweaked script will not ruin its epic nature. “I’m producing it with Akiva Goldsman, who wrote it to be sensitive to cost and is rewriting it to be more so. Without putting a number on it, the cuts aren’t that deep or that radical.”
While they are working things out, there were also concerns that their Gunslinger’s (Javier Bardem) schedule might not allow him to take on such a massive undertaking due to the delay. “Nobody is pay or play but he has said he wants to do it,” says Howard. We’ve spent a lot of time together. He’s fascinated by the character and has great instincts for Roland. I’m hoping when we go, he’s available and will join us.”
From the sounds of it, it seems that production might begin in March of next year. The books chronicle the mysterious Gunslinger as he travels across a desolate and vaguely post-apocalyptic landscape in his quest for a black tower. Portals along the way eventually allow contact with our own modern world.