When Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer acquired the rights to adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, many assumed it would come in the form of a big screen endeavor. Those assumptions are, of course, correct — but there’s more to the story, so much more that it has to be told on the small screen.
Deadline broke the news that Howard, Goldsman and Grazer have partnered up with Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment to turn The Dark Tower into both a film trilogy and a television series. Howard will direct the first film in the series, followed by a full-length television season that would reunite all of the major Dark Tower cast and crew members on the small screen. Once the second film hits theaters, a second season of the television series will air, drawing influence from Marvel’s prequel comic series that depicted Roland Deschain as a young gunslinger. The third film would be the final entry in the series, rounding out the story of Roland’s journey towards the fabled Dark Tower.
“What Peter [Jackson] did [with The Lord of the Rings] was a feat, cinematic history,” said Howard. “The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”
Universal has issued a press release on the news, which you can read below.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES AND NBC UNIVERSAL TELEVISION ENTERTAINMENT TO MAKE FILM TRILOGY AND TELEVISION SERIES BASED ON STEPHEN KING’S EPIC SERIES OF NOVELS THE DARK TOWER
Academy Award® Winners Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer Will Produce the Three Films and the TV Series Based on The Dark Tower
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, September 8, 2010 – Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley—along with Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment and Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC & Universal Media Studios—today announced that Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have acquired the rights to produce three films and a television series based on the seven epic novels, short stories and comic books from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.
Ron Howard will direct the first film and the first season of television, which will be written by Goldsman. Goldsman will produce the film through his Weed Road Pictures with Howard and Grazer for Imagine Entertainment. Howard, Grazer and Goldsman will executive produce the television series for Universal Media Studios. Kerry Foster will executive produce the first film for Weed Road Pictures along with Todd Hallowell and Erica Huggins for Imagine Entertainment.
“I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world,” said King. “Ron, Akiva, Brian along with Universal and NBC have a deep interest and passion for theThe Dark Tower series and I know that will translate into an intriguing series of films and TV shows that respect the origins and the characters in The Dark Tower that fans have come to love.”
The Dark Tower is Stephen King’s opus of seven bestselling novels with, to date, more than 30 million copies sold in 40 countries. The novels incorporate themes from multiple genres including fantasy, science fiction, horror and adventure. After the series was completed, a prequel of comic books based on one of the characters was also published.
“Building a franchise home for The Dark Tower is an exciting opportunity for this studio, and we’re thrilled that Stephen has entrusted us to bring his beloved novels to the big screen,” said Fogelson.
“Stephen King is a brilliant storyteller who creates imaginary worlds that resonate with the broadest audiences across ages and demographics,” said Gaspin. “We are thrilled to partner with our colleagues in the film division and Brian, Ron and Akiva to bring Stephen’s vision to the largest audience possible through this innovative multi-platform collaboration.”
Howard, Grazer and Goldsman are planning for the first film in the trilogy to be immediately followed by a television series that will bridge the second film. After the second film, the television series will pick up allowing viewers to explore the adventures of the protagonist as a young man as a bridge to the third film and beyond.
“We are excited to have found partners at Universal who understand and embrace our approach to King’s remarkable epic,” said Howard. “By using both the scope and scale of theatrical filmmaking and the intimacy of television we hope to more comprehensively do justice to the characters, themes and amazing sequences King has given us in The Dark Tower novels. It might be the challenge of a lifetime but clearly a thrilling one to take on and explore.”
“The worlds of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series are richly detailed, inter-locking and deeply connected,” said Goldsman. “By telling this story across media platforms and over multiple hours—and with a view to telling it completely—we have our best chance of translating Roland’s quest to reach The Dark Tower onto screen. We are proceeding with tremendous excitement, fidelity to the source material and, quite frankly, no small amount of awe at this opportunity.”
“King has created the most visually enthralling places and characters in The Dark Tower,” said Grazer. “The synergy created across all the media divisions of our partners at NBC Universal to tell this remarkable story is ground-breaking and invigorating. This project will be one of the most exciting and challenging that I will have ever worked on and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
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