More than 30 million copies of The Dark Tower have been sold in 40 countries. After the series of seven books was completed, a prequel of comic books based on one of the characters was also published.
“I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world,” said King, in a statement. “Ron, Akiva, Brian along with Universal and NBC have a deep interest and passion for the The Dark Tower series and I know that will translate into an intriguing series of films and TV shows that respect the origins and the characters in The Dark Tower that fans have come to love.”
Howard told Deadline's Mike Fleming “The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”
The Dark Tower revolves around Roland Deschain, the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, and humanity’s last hope to save a civilization that will crumble unless he finds the Dark Tower. Howard and Goldsman describe the world as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.”
The plan is to start with the feature film, and then create a bridge to the second feature with a season of TV episodes. That means the feature cast—and the big star who’ll play Deschain—also has to appear in the TV series before returning to the second film. After that sequel is done, the TV series picks up again, this time focusing on Deschain as a young gunslinger. Those storylines will be informed by a prequel comic book series that King was heavily involved in plotting. The third film would pick up the mature Deshain as he completes his journey. The same sets could be utilized for cast and crew for the movie and TV, which could help contain costs on what will be a financially ambitious undertaking.
"We will certainly be looking to maximize both creative and fiscal opportunities by creating one enterprise that encompasses TV and movies," Goldsman said. "Some of the shooting will likely encompass both platforms, and that has never been done before. It's thrilling, we feel like kids in a candy story."
“The worlds of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series are richly detailed, inter-locking and deeply connected,” said Goldsman in a statement. “By telling this story across media platforms and over multiple hours—and with a view to telling it completely—we have our best chance of translating Roland’s quest to reach The Dark Tower onto screen. We are proceeding with tremendous excitement, fidelity to the source material and, quite frankly, no small amount of awe at this opportunity.”
Howard, Grazer and Goldsman will exec produce the TV series for Universal Media Studios. Kerry Foster will exec produce the first film for Weed Road, along with Imagine's Todd Hallowell and Erica Huggins.
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