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After Universal Studios Inc. initially approved the making of at least one feature length film adaptation of author Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series, they pulled funding for the film because it was too risky. Ron Howard was set to direct the film, with Javier Bordem as the Gunslinger, Roland Deschain. Howard envisioned three feature length films with a two-season television series to help finish off the story.
Problems first arose several months ago when Universal began talking about trying to reduce the budget and maybe just doing one film. Negotiations continued until Universal finally decided that the endeavor was simply too uncertain to put their money behind.
The seven-book series is not very kid-friendly and the audience would not be as widespread as other projects they were considering. The story focuses on Roland Deschain’s quest to reach The Dark Tower through many struggles and setbacks.
Despite Universal’s decision to back out of this project, Howard is still dedicated to seeing King’s series come to life. As Entertainment Weekly reported on July 19, Universal’s first right of refusal is now expired, and so Howard is free to try acquire support from other studios. Howard is determined to get The Dark Tower Series to the big screen and he has not given up yet.
Neither has the author of the series, Stephen King. In an email to Entertainment Weekly he reported that he has “no ill will, and trust[s] Ron Howard to get Roland and his friends before the camera somewhere else. He’s very committed to the project.”
King does not seem too worried about this latest setback, but is instead looking toward the future.
Over the years, a large number of King’s books have made it to the big screen with varying degrees of success. Films such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile or The Shining did well both at the box office and with critics and Kathy Bates from Misery even managed to score an Oscar for her performance.
Other films have not fared so well, most notably, Sleepwalkers and Maximum Overdrive. Both were slammed by numerous critics for plot holes and bad acting. Additionally, they did not make very much money at the box office.
Considering the hit or miss factor to films based off of King’s books, it makes sense that Universal would be leery about not only making one movie, but dedicating large amounts of money to three films and a television series.
Spending the kind of money it takes to finish The Dark Tower film adaptation will take millions of dollars and the willingness to risk not making it back in profits. King’s series is a huge undertaking and the quality of the story certainly makes it something that a number of people would be excited to see come to life on the big screen.
Only time will tell if Howard will be able to keep his promise and find a new studio willing to take the risk.
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