Universal‘s multi-tier adaptation of the Stephen King book series just proved to be far too ambitious for the studio to tackle. Filming on the beginning of a three film, two-TV series cycle was to start this summer, then next February, but it looks like Uni couldn’t find a way to keep the costs down.
The next step — do director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman take the project to another studio? And will they be able to retain their one star, Javier Bardem, to play Roland Deschain? Seems doubtful, as that’s a huge commitment, one that Universal as trying to shortchange by opting for only one movie, a prospect turned down by producers Goldsman, King and Brian Grazer.
Universal, formerly a genre-friendly place, is in a curious spot. After years of expensive misfires that did not recoup (“The Wolf Man,” “Green Zone,” “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World“), earlier this year, the studio played it safe by putting the kibosh on Guillermo Del Toro‘s “At The Mountains Of Madness,” budgeted at $150 million. Weirdly, however, they are going forward with “47 Ronin” and “Battleship,” both of which, according to Deadline, have massive $200 million budgets. We’re not sure what they’re thinking trusting a first-time director on “Ronin” but “Battleship” definitely worries in that it’s the opening shot in a planned Universal board game onslaught that will include fall 2012’s “Ouija” and upcoming “Candyland” and “Stretch Armstrong” adaptations. If Del Toro and Howard want to point fingers, perhaps Hasbro is the culprit here.
As for Howard, this frees him up to re-team with “Frost/Nixon” writer Peter Morgan for “Rush,” which currently has Chris Hemsworth ready to star. Beyond that, Howard’s also developing a “Spy Vs. Spy” movie as well as the mysterious “Amnesty” project. Akiva Goldsman, meanwhile, continues to be a cancer on Hollywood.