by Brian Phares
In news that's not exactly surprising but still disappointing, Universal has officially passed on Ron Howard's ambitious adaptation of "The Dark Tower." Deadline broke the news, revealing that Universal won't proceed with Howard's plan to adapt Stephen King's classic novels through three films and two seasons of television. Howard is free to shop the project to other backers, of course, but this could very well be it for his big "Dark Tower" plan.
It breaks my heart to hear that Howard's "Dark Tower" won't come to pass (at least not through Universal), though I am not the least bit surprised. The ambitious movie-TV-movie-TV-movie format raised my eyebrow from the very start. Not only did the math not make sense (there’s seven books to consider, not five) it just seemed like asking way too much of a viewer to divide their time between a movie series and a TV series.
Ron Howard, for what it's worth, this is how I would have done it -- and how you should too.
TV, TV, TV
Give it the good ol’ "Game of Thrones" treatment. Divide the series into seven seasons, one per book. Hell, the first book could just be an epic made-for-TV movie, essentially a two and a half hour pilot, and then you only have six seasons to worry about. Ten episodes per season, or as many episodes as it needs to tell the story. "Game of Thrones" has proved that not only does this format work, but it also gives the show runners the creative freedom to explore characters even more deeply than they are explored in the books. This, to me, is really the only viable option for staying true to the story.
Screw The Story
Not to give away too many spoilers, but "The Dark Tower" ends in a way that lends itself to a completely new retelling of the story. Keep the best scenes from the books and ditch the rest, reformat the entire thing into a brand new film trilogy that you can sell to Universal as an original concept. Fans might be mad, but at least you won't risk defiling the books, and you get to stay true to the spirit of the novels. This is your chance to give the series the epic conclusion it needs, Ron!
Throw In The Towel
In the end, maybe this project just can't be done. Many a valiant hero has come to the labyrinth that is "The Dark Tower" and have been chewed up and spit out by the minotaur that is Hollywood. Unfortunately, Ron, not everybody can be Theseus. Perhaps it's time to file this in the awesome-nerd-dreams-that-never-came-true bin alongside Guillermo Del Toro’s ill-fated "At The Mountains of Madness." (Still upset about that one, by the way!) I would love to see Roland and his ka-tet come to live-action life, but if it’s not done right, then it just shouldn’t be done at all.
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