'The Dark Tower' adaptation: Ron Howard is the new J.J. Abrams
Quick, what’s the greatest horror-fantasy spaghetti-western meta-memoir epic ever written? No, not Don Quixote. I’m talking about The Dark Tower, the seven-book saga written over several decades by novelist (and EW contributor) Stephen King. The series throws all the author’s themes and fascinations into a massive tale and forms the connective material between pretty much everything King’s ever written. It’s difficult to imagine adapting it, but for the last few years, us Tower fans could imagine quite a lot: J.J. Abrams held the rights to the series, with the intention of turning Tower into a TV series produced by Lost masterminds Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. (The three producers actually hung out with King for an EW-mediated geek date back in 2006.)
Alas, the world has moved on. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Team Lost understandably couldn’t figure out how to crack Tower as a TV series. In a bizarre twist, however, another pop culture trio has stepped in to carry the fire: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Akiva Goldsman. And they’ve got big ideas.
As a Dark Tower fan, I always wondered: Would the books work better as a TV show or a movie? Well, Howard-Grazer-Goldsman have answered my question: “Can’t it be both?” According to their current game plan, Howard will direct a film adaption of the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, to be written by Goldsman. There will be three movies total…but there will also be a TV series that will run concurrently. (The series will be produced by Imagine Entertainment, the production company owned by Howard and Grazer.) Warner Brothers and Universal have been fighting over the rights to the project, but Universal looks likely to win out. This is a classic good news/bad news scenario:
Good News: Howard and Grazer are Hollywood heavies, so the actual chances of a Dark Tower adaptation being made have just increased by infinity.
Bad News: Crazy as The Dark Tower‘s storyline is (and believe me, you haven’t seen anything like book 6), it still felt right in the wheelhouse of the genre-hopping Abrams and the Lost boys. Conversely, although Ron Howard has directed practically every genre there is, his fantasy film was Willow and his western was The Missing. This does not inspire optimism. (Dear people who like Willow: No.)
Good News: Imagine Entertainment has a ridiculous winning streak when it comes to TV shows: 24, Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and the first TV show they produced, Felicity, produced by (destiny alert!) J.J. Abrams.
Bad News: I dig the idea of a story that runs between a movie trilogy and a TV series, but there aren’t too many successful examples of that kind of movie/TV synergy. The X-Files tried something along those lines, but the resulting movie, which came out during the summer break between seasons, wasn’t satisfying for fans or newcomers.
Akiva Goldsman apparently has a real passion for the franchise — he brought the project to Grazer and Howard, with King’s blessing — so color us hopeful. What do you think, PopWatchers? Are you excited by the prospect of Ron Howard making something other than true-life biopics and Dan Brown thrillers? Can we all agree that Viggo Mortensen gets to star as Roland the Gunslinger? Will we get the Akiva Goldsman who produces Fringe and wrote I Am Legend, or the Akiva Goldsman who produced Constantine and wrote Lost in Space? Sound off below!