The studio may have put the kibosh on Ron Howard's ambitious project starring Javier Bardem, but King hasn't given up hope

By Anthony Breznican
Updated July 22, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

It took Stephen King 22 years to write the quest of The Dark Tower, and it looks like the movie could be in for a similarly long journey. Universal has turned down Ron Howard‘s proposal to make three films and two seasons of TV out of the seven-novel series, derailing one of the most ambitious projects ever put forth in Hollywood. Ultimately, it was just too ambitious, with an estimated budget of $200 million for the first film and its follow-up six-hour miniseries, according to a source close to the project. Dark Tower would have starred Javier Bardem as Roland, a gunslinger on a path to a mythical structure that binds space and time. All hope is not lost, though. Howard and his Imagine Entertainment partners, who had a first-look deal at Universal, are now free to shop the project to other studios — and King himself is still optimistic. ”I’m sorry Universal passed, but not really surprised,” he tells EW. ”As a rule, they’ve been about smaller and less risky [movies]…. I bear them no ill will, and trust Ron Howard to get Roland and his friends before the camera somewhere else. He’s very committed to the project.”