Well, the writing was pretty much on the wall already before it was announced yesterday that Universal had yanked the cord on “The Dark Tower.” Despite lots of movement late last year and early this year, with Javier Bardem being tipped for the lead role and lots of excitement around the multi-platform mega franchise that would’ve seen Stephen King‘s book series stretched out over three films and television series, word just as quickly quieted as the honchos over at Universal began to get cold feet over the scope and more importantly the cost of the project. Word was that the budget was being reworked and the production start pushed back, but as director Ron Howard begin circling new projects including a “Spy Vs. Spy” movie and the Formula 1 racing drama “Rush” which is already casting up we can’t say anyone was shocked by the collapse of “The Dark Tower.” Least of all, the author himself.
The folks over at EW decided to drop King an email (he frequently writes for the magazine) to get his feedback and he’s quite philosophical about the whole thing and even takes a good hearted dig at the “Fast And Furious” franchise. “I’m sorry Universal passed, but not really surprised,” he wrote. “As a rule, they’ve been about smaller and less risky pix; maybe they feel it would be better to stick with those fast and furious racing boys. 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.”
As indicated in reports yesterday, the project remains with Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and the big question now will be if there are any other studios willing to take on the expensive risk of the film. On the one hand, it has huge potential but on the other (and yes, we’re simplifying a bit) it’s an expensive vehicle dealing in genres — particularly western and sci-fi — that are traditionally more difficult to sell.
At any rate, this one is definitely on the backburner for now and not likely to get moving again for some time. With Howard set to shoot “Rush” in late 2011/early 2012 his attention will be elsewhere, but it does give everyone time to step back and reassess their approach. So keep hope alive King fans, “The Dark Tower” remains in distant view.