Credit: Michael Buckner/

Ron Howard got on the phone with yesterday to try to talk about his new project with the camera company Canon — a competition in which amateur shutterbugs send in still photographs with the hope that the pics will be selected by Howard to be turned into short films. But we weren’t paying much attention to that. We were too busy peppering the director of A Beautiful Mind with questions about The Dark Tower, the feature film and TV miniseries that Howard is planning to adapt from the epic Stephen King series of sci-fi/fantasy novels about a roaming alternate-universe cowboy named Gunslinger.

“We had to pull back to our September start date due to budget delays and ongoing story development and logistical issues, but Dark Tower is moving forward,” Howard said. “We’re thinking of starting in early spring now. I can’t really say who’ll be in it yet, but Javier Bardem has shown a great deal of interest. We’ll know by the end of the summer, when our flashing green light goes solid.” The project would start with a feature film, followed by six hours of TV content, starring the same actors as in the movie. “There are elements of the Dark Tower saga that are more personal and can be best dealt with on television,” Howard continued. “TV allows you to roll out details of the characters in a more methodical way.”

Oh, yeah, the Canon thing: Send in pictures based on a series of movie themes — like setting, time, character, mood, relationship — and maybe Howard will pick one of them to be made into a short film by a professional director (still to be determined). The campaign is called Project Imagin8ion, and it’s already received 10,000 submissions. Good thing Howard has until spring to sort through all those snapshots.