After years of starts and stops and ever-evolving plans, Stephen King’s beloved book series “The Dark Tower” is finally hitting the big screen this summer, care of a stream-lined first feature directed by Nikolaj Arcel and starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. While the seemingly “unadaptable” franchise has been the subject of some very ambitious plans, including multiple films and an accompanying television series, much of what will unspool hinges on the reception of the first film.
But that hasn’t stopped Arcel and company from working on the planned series, one designed to fill in the gaps between the new film — crafted as a sequel of sorts to King’s original books, and an “introduction” to non-fans — and the cyclical battles between Elba’s Roland Deschain and McConaughey’s Man in Black.
And, as Arcel explained to IndieWire in a recent interview, the series itself will be “totally canon,” unlike the film, which spins the story of into a slightly tweaked direction that is designed to offer up new adventures.
“It’s being written,” Arcel said of the long-gestating series. “I was part of writing the pilot, like the first season ideas and the pilot and the second episode. It’s gonna be awesome. What was exciting about that, whereas with the film, we were really trying to create an introduction and make a standalone film that could sort of live in itself, but what was also exciting, working on the TV show at the same time, is that is totally canon.”
He added, “We’re going back in the past. It’s very, very closely adhering to the ‘Wizard and Glass’ novel and parts of ‘The Gunslinger’ novel. That was exciting to be even more like, ‘Okay, now we’re going to be able to even lift lines directly, or like [write] characters exactly as they are. Which, as a fan, was exciting in a different way.”
Earlier this year, producer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman told Deadline that the television series was still very much on, saying, “The first episode of a show has been written, and we hope to retain Ron’s original idea to mix platforms…Idris for sure is part of this, and if the movie is Roland Deschain the gunslinger, the show is his origin story, based on the fourth novel in the series, ‘Wizard and Glass.'”
While the book that Goldsman references follows the adventures of a young Roland — age fourteen, as he earns his guns — that portion of the narrative is a story-within-a-story, allowing room for both a young Roland and an adult-aged Roland to appear in the series.
“Dark Tower” star Tom Taylor, who plays Jake Chambers, is also expected to appear in the series, though there’s no word yet on McConaughey’s potential involvement.
MRC and Sony Pictures, who are releasing the film, are set to finance a 10-13 episode first season, though there is no official word on yet it will begin production.
“The Dark Tower” hits theaters on Friday, August 4.