DARK TOWER - August 4th - Bomb Incoming!

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AndyDursin
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DARK TOWER - August 4th - Bomb Incoming!

#1 Post by AndyDursin » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:43 pm

This is certainly a very big deal and is unprecedented with the TV series component -- can't say I'm crazy about Ron Howard's involvement but we'll have to see.

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have closed a deal to turn Stephen King’s mammoth novel series The Dark Tower into a feature film trilogy and a network TV series, both of which will be creatively steered by the Oscar-winning team behind A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.

Ron Howard has committed to direct the initial feature film, as well as the first season of the TV series that will follow in close proximity. Akiva Goldsman will write the film, and the first season of the TV series. Howard’s Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will produce, with Goldsman and the author.

When Deadline revealed in April that Howard, Goldman and Grazer planned to team with King, Universal was battling Warner Bros—home of Goldsman’s Weed Road--for the property. The multi-platform deal was so comprehensive, it took months to close. It will be announced later today by Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson, co-chairman Donna Langley, NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin, and NBC & Universal Media Studios Primetime Entertainment president Angela Bromstad, all of whom pulled it together.

I spoke with Goldsman and Howard, who have polled enough of their peers to be convinced what they are doing here has never been attempted: using a major studio’s film and TV platforms simultaneously to tell a story. It is reminiscent of when Peter Jackson directed three installments of The Lord of The Rings, back to back, so that they could be released in three consecutive years.

“What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history,” Howard told me. “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.”

Considered King’s answer to JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth trilogy, The Dark Tower revolves around Roland Deschain, the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, and humanity’s last hope to save a civilization that will crumble unless he finds the Dark Tower. Howard and Goldsman describe the world as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.”

Goldsman first mentioned The Dark Tower to Howard and Grazer while they worked on A Beautiful Mind nearly a decade ago.

“Akiva said, ‘Stephen will not let go of it, but it’s like nothing else you’ve ever read,’” Howard recalled. “It was frustrating because it’s one of those works where you read it, and then at odd times, the imagery and sensations just pop up in your mind. This is going to be an amazing life experience for us, trying to do justice to the story and the universe.”

King granted an option—for $19, a number relevant to the plotline--to JJ Abrams and his Lost partners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. They never cracked the sprawling plotline and all the characters. Goldsman pounced when the rights were available, but saw the same problems until Howard suggested using film and TV platforms. Though Howard famously grew up on a TV screen on The Andy Griffith Show, he hasn’t directed TV since the early 80s, but is eager to return. It seems hard to fathom he'd direct a full season's worth of episodes, but that is the early plan, and who says they have to do 22 to create that bridge to the next film?

The plan is to start with the feature film, and then create a bridge to the second feature with a season of TV episodes. That means the feature cast—and the big star who’ll play Deschain—also has to appear in the TV series before returning to the second film. After that sequel is done, the TV series picks up again, this time focusing on Deschain as a young gunslinger. Those storylines will be informed by a prequel comic book series that King was heavily involved in plotting. The third film would pick up the mature Deshain as he completes his journey. They will benefit from being able to use the same sets cast and crew for the movie and TV, which could help contain costs on what will be a financially ambitious undertaking.

"We will certainly be looking to maximize both creative and fiscal opportunities by creating one enterprise that encompasses TV and movies," Goldsman said. "Some of the shooting will likely encompass both platforms, and that has never been done before. It's thrilling, we feel like kids in a candy story."

Goldsman is writing, and Howard said he and Grazer have cleared the decks to do this quickly. “I’m finishing The Dilemma, and then I don’t have anything scheduled and I plan to work hard on this with Akiva and Brian,” Howard told me. “We will refine our take on the feature and TV shows. We have a clear view of what we want to do, and we’re lucky to have a company with the nerve to back us up on this venture.”

Howard, Grazer and Goldsman will exec produce the TV series for Universal Media Studios. Kerry Foster will exec produce the first film for Weed Road, along with Imagine's Todd Hallowell and Erica Huggins.

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Re: Stephen King's DARK TOWER Films *and* TV Series Looming

#2 Post by mkaroly » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:05 pm

I couldn't get through the books because I just didn't connect with them. I made it to the fourth volume and just stopped. Can't say I would want to see these products...it's very challenging to make a Stephen King book into a successful movie/TV show; it has been done before, but the commitment people would have to have to keep up with everything and make the transitions between TV and film might be asking too much. Then again, maybe it won't. :)

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Re: Stephen King's DARK TOWER Films *and* TV Series Looming

#3 Post by Monterey Jack » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:14 pm

Opie Cunningham and the guy who wrote Batman & Robin and Lost In Space... :?

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Re: Stephen King's DARK TOWER Films *and* TV Series Looming

#4 Post by AndyDursin » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:17 pm

Monterey Jack wrote:Opie Cunningham and the guy who wrote Batman & Robin and Lost In Space... :?
Oh yeah...him too. Another one who's not one of my favorites!

What's funny is that I totally forgot Ron Howard ever directed a western. THE MISSING is a film almost everyone has forgotten about (did anyone ever remember it? lol).

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Re: Stephen King's DARK TOWER Films *and* TV Series Looming

#5 Post by AndyDursin » Tue May 10, 2011 11:56 am

Sounds like it's DOA -- can't say I'm surprised.

Scott's PROMETHEUS got bank rolled but I'm guessing it's going to be a PG-13. This DARK TOWER project sounded too ambitious from the get go -- you don't have a bankable star, Ron Howard sounds all wrong, and Akiva Goldsman is terrible.

I don't understand why horror fans start crying when studios won't bankroll mega-budget R rated projects, when there is no audience in that genre there to support them. Look at all the profitable horror movies -- nearly all of them are low budget like Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, even the Saw movies. The Exorcist couldn't have been a massively budget production for its time either.

http://www.deadline.com/2011/05/dark-to ... ss-budget/

Universal Pictures has put pre-production staff on hiatus as they discuss ways to bring down the budget of the ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King novel series The Dark Tower. Talks are ongoing between studio brass, director Ron Howard and his Imagine Entertainment, and writer/producer Akiva Goldsman about how they will proceed. The plan was to make three movies that would star Javier Bardem, with TV miniseries in between each film. The plan was as ambitious as New Line's gamble on The Lord of the Rings years ago.

One thing for sure, even though staffers have been told there's a chance they will return, the plan to start production in September is scratched. If Universal decides the proposition is too rich for its blood -- it recently halted At the Mountains of Madness because it was an R-rated $150 million film -- then the next move would be to bring it to Warner Bros, where Goldsman's Weed Road has its deal. Word that Universal would put the project in turnaround began circulating last night, but both the studio and Imagine denied it. They're still denying it. We've held our tongue until now, when staffers have been told to stop working.

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Re: DARK TOWER Production "On Hiatus"; Sounds DOA

#6 Post by Monterey Jack » Tue May 10, 2011 10:18 pm

Personally, I'm glad this is stalled out. Opie Cunningham is ALL WRONG for this type of material, Bardem, while an awesome actor, is miscast (Roland has BLUE EYES, people!), and it just seems impossible to me that the whole "movie then TV series then movie" plan is really going to work. That, and the material NEEDS to be rated R. Just do it as an HBO miniseries. No ratings concerns, plenty of room to spread...don't go ahead with this if you're gonna screw with the material too much.

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Re: DARK TOWER Production "On Hiatus"; Sounds DOA

#7 Post by AndyDursin » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:15 pm

She's dead, Jim...

The moment has come for Universal Pictures to fish or cut bait on The Dark Tower, the ultra-ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that was going to encompass a trilogy of feature films and two limited run TV series. The studio has said, No Thanks. Universal has passed on going forward with the project, dealing a huge blow in the plan for Ron Howard to direct Akiva Goldsman's script, with Brian Grazer, Goldsman and the autor producing and Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. Now, the filmmakers will have to find a new backer of what might well be the most ambitious movie project since Bob Shaye allowed Peter Jackson to shoot three installments of The Lord of the Rings back to back.

http://www.deadline.com/2011/07/univers ... tv-series/

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Re: DARK TOWER Dead; Universal Passes on Movie Trilogy/TV Se

#8 Post by Monterey Jack » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:10 pm

Image

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Re: Stephen King's DARK TOWER Films *and* TV Series Looming

#9 Post by mkaroly » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:42 pm

mkaroly wrote:I couldn't get through the books because I just didn't connect with them. I made it to the fourth volume and just stopped. Can't say I would want to see these products...it's very challenging to make a Stephen King book into a successful movie/TV show; it has been done before, but the commitment people would have to have to keep up with everything and make the transitions between TV and film might be asking too much. Then again, maybe it won't. :)
'Tis a sad day when I quote myself in a post...lol...BUT...

I started reading the books again at the behest of one of my best friends and I have made it to the final book (even reading THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE between books four and five). I have to say that I am enjoying them much more this time around...not sure why. Just started book seven this morning...looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

I'm tempted to want to see these made into films or several TV mini-series; if films then they would have to make at least ten films (as I would hate to see this epic get screwed like the Harry Potter books) in order to get everything in there. If TV mini-series I think they could do justice to the books with special effects but what a HUGE FINANCIAL RISK...there is no point in doing one book only and then not following through and not make the others. If they did it on the "cheap" then I would be afraid that too much information would be left out and the shows would be less-than-desirable. I think the film option will always be off the table for financial reasons...maybe as a TV series? It couldn't be worse than ONCE UPON A TIME, right???

On the other hand, King's stuff does not really translate well to film or TV for the most part (especially the ultra-supernatural stuff). The sweep of this thing is just so HUGE...I don't see it as three films and two TV mini-series. Maybe it would work in one format or the other, but not both. It's a moot point right now, but I would rather see this series made into multiple films/TV shows than THE HOBBIT.

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Re: DARK TOWER Dead; Universal Passes on Movie Trilogy/TV Se

#10 Post by Monterey Jack » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:27 pm

I'd rather see these books left on the page. NO studio would greenlight these films at an R-rating, which is what they'd require to be done full justice.

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Re: DARK TOWER Dead; Universal Passes on Movie Trilogy/TV Se

#11 Post by AndyDursin » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:41 pm

Monterey Jack wrote:I'd rather see these books left on the page. NO studio would greenlight these films at an R-rating, which is what they'd require to be done full justice.
Agreed. I mean, I think Fox is happy with PROMETHEUS -- $125 mil domestic and over $300 mil worldwide total -- but that's probably the best that film could've done given the genre and the R rating. Considering THE DARK TOWER would've required an investment considerably beyond Prometheus, I think it's pretty obvious why the studio pulled the plug on it.

I think the best fans can hope for that want to see an adaptation is for HBO or another cable outlet to do them as a TV mini-series. Get some funding from international outlets and package it...but I think Universal's planned multi-outlet film/TV hybrid was just way, way too ambitious.

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Re: DARK TOWER Dead; Universal Passes on Movie Trilogy/TV Se

#12 Post by Monterey Jack » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:54 pm

Considering what HBO's doing with Game Of Thrones (haven't seen it, just as a comparison), I'd say the best bet for a faithful adaptation of the Dark Tower books would be to give it to them. No running time considerations, no PG-13 compromises...

Either that or do it as a series of animated films. They'd cost a lot less than live-action films, and you could envision a lot of King's crazier visual ideas a lot more effectively. Then again, it's rare to see a a major American animated release even get released with a PG-13 rating, let alone an R. :? Aside from 9, I can't think of an animated feature rated higher than a PG since...what, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut? Too bad animation is forever ghettoized as strictly a children's medium in this country. :(
Last edited by Monterey Jack on Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DARK TOWER Dead; Universal Passes on Movie Trilogy/TV Se

#13 Post by AndyDursin » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:50 am

So Warner Bros. had a shot and passed -- now it's possibly in the hands of MRC, which produced TED and sold it to Universal to a massive gross. Will be interesting to see what they do if they buy it.

http://www.deadline.com/2012/08/did-war ... ark-tower/

UPDATE: Media Rights Capital is in serious talks to take on The Dark Tower after Warner Bros declined to make what potentially amounts to three feature films and two limited run TV series. MRC’s Modi Wiczyk is a big fan of the Stephen King novel series, I hear, and the company is eager to capitalize on the positive momentum they got from developing and financing the Seth MacFarlane-directed summer sleeper hit Ted with Mark Wahlberg. MRC next has the Neill Blomkamp-directed Elysium with Matt Damon, and the company has the capital to back an ambitious project like The Dark Tower with director Ron Howard eyeing Russell Crowe as the gunslinger Roland Deschain and his quest to travel through a Western-style world woven with magic to find the Dark Tower, mankind’s only hope. Akiva Goldsman adapted the book and is producing along with Brian Grazer and Stephen King. Even though MRC was unavailable to comment, I expect this deal to make quickly. MRC has a distribution arrangement with Universal, but it’s unclear whether that studio would release the film. Universal developed it but passed on making the project before it moved to Warner Bros.

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Re: DARK TOWER - WB Passes, MRC in Talks to Buy Property

#14 Post by Monterey Jack » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:32 am

No matter who ends up footing the bill for this, if Opie Cunningham is directing, the project is doomed. Get a filmmaker with an actual vision, please. :?

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Re: DARK TOWER - WB Passes, MRC in Talks to Buy Property

#15 Post by mkaroly » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:58 am

Crowe as Roland? No....bad choice in casting...horrible.

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