Dark Tower

Six months ago, EW wrote a very different headline: “‘The Dark Tower’ lives.

That’s when Warner Bros. executives began considering filmmaker Ron Howard’s proposal for a multi-movie adaptation of Stephen King’s six-gun-and-sorcery fantasy epic. (The movie — and an accompanying TV series — had already been dropped as too expensive and too risky by Howard’s home studio of Universal Pictures.)

Sadly, for those hoping to see Roland the gunslinger’s quest on the big screen, Warner Bros. has come to the same conclusion, sources close to the project confirm.

The decision, first reported by Variety, is not a total death blow to Howard and his production company Imagine Entertainment’s efforts to bring the eight-novel series to life on the big and small screens — but it is a serious and potentially mortal wound.

Few studios have the resources for such a massive undertaking, and reluctance on the part of Universal and Warner Bros. signals that those who do also see danger in the prospect.

King’s Dark Tower novels have a savage edge that, done faithfully, would assure an R-rating — cutting out a huge swath of audience that helped make The Lord of the Rings a global blockbuster. Meanwhile, watering down the violence in the stories might guarantee a more commercial-friendly PG-13 rating, but would surely rankle devotees of the books, who would be the films’ core audience.

HBO’s Game of Thrones has tackled the same genre while retaining the blood and sex that give George R.R. Martin’s books their bite, and many fans have said a cable series could prove to be the last — and perhaps best — hope for Imagine’s plans.

The screenplay for the multi-platform project was being developed by Akiva Goldsman (who won an Oscar for Howard’s A Beautiful Mind), and Javier Bardem was proposed for the lead role of Roland, a cowboy-knight seeking the mystical tower that binds the entire universe.

Unfortunately, at this point, that may be a more realistic goal than finding a production deal.

Howard remains somewhat optimistic, invoking The Dark Tower‘s term for “destiny” and its philosophy that fate keeps leading one in similar directions until a lesson is learned.

As fans expressed sorrow that his project seemed to be coming to an end, the director tweeted: “Don’t give up on us yet. Ka is a wheel.”

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