Ron Howard Gives Update on Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ Movie

Ryan Sternfels

Author and celebrated horror-master Stephen King is certainly making a comeback both in film and television. With solid numbers on shows like Under the the-dark-tower-imgDome (based on one of his latest novels) and the upcoming remake of the 1976 horror classic Carrie, now starring the extremely talented Chlöe Grace Moretz in the titular role and taking the reigns from Sissy Spacek, the horror legend certainly has some gargantuan paychecks headed his way.

When an adaption of King‘s series of books titled, The Dark Tower, was first announced in 2007, director J.J. Abrams was originally attached to direct but soon backed out.  In 2010 Universal made an official announcement that the project was a go, however, like Mr. Abrams, the studio soon dropped out citing disagreements with producer Ron Howard and marketability issues.  Then there was talk of a series on basic cable, then premium cable broadcaster HBO, and so on, and so on, and so on.

While Mr. Howard was making the rounds for the promotion of his enticing new film Rush, he got a chance to talk a little about The Dark Tower:

So my answer is: it got delayed, it’s never gone away.  We’re working on it, and Stephen is very patient with us and Akiva’s just gone off and directed a movie, I’m continuing to work, but the Dark Tower dreams – fever dreams, rather – are still there, but we’re not going to give it a timetable.

So there it is…

Delayed, but not gone.  Would this qualify as movie limbo?

The producer and director goes on to talk about adapting The Dark Tower‘s epic proportions into a series of movies:

It’s a fascinating, powerful possibility and even Stephen King acknowledges it’s a tricky adaptation, but to be honest, from a financing side, it’s not a straightforward, four-quadrant, sunny superhero story – it’s dark, it’s horror.  That edge is what appeals to me, the complexities of those characters is what appeals to all of us.  And I think Stephen King really respects that, with Akiva Goldsman and myself, that’s what we love about it, and that’s what we want to try to get to the screen.

If and when The Dark Tower gets made, I’m positive it’ll be a blockbuster.  With (currently) eight novels to work off of, that’s eight potential feature films that can be adapted and produced.  Let’s make a list here, of all feature film series with over three adaptions.

  • The Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: $2.92 billion box office for the trilogy, plus over $1 billion for the first installment of The Hobbit alone.
  • The Twilight Saga: Over $3 billion box office.
  • Marvel Films: Going back to the year 1944 with their very first film adaptation of Captain America (that’s right, let that sink in that we’ve been watching the same shit for almost 70 years) have earned over $400 billion since then.
  • Harry Potter: Over $7 billion box office.

I think you get the point…

The Dark Tower series has real potential, and I’m not just saying that.  It’s so unique in it’s own respect, and we could use a little ‘uniqueness’ at the theaters.  For those who don’t know, The Dark Tower series follows a lone gunslinger in another dimension that crosses frequently with our own.  This is King‘s coup-de-grace, his self-proclaimed masterpiece.  What makes this work fascinating though is how remnants of his other stories, e.g. ItThe Stand, and yes…even Stand by Me, are all integrated into The Dark Tower, something we’ve rarely seen in any other works.

We’ll keep you posted with any new information, but based on Ron Howard‘s words, don’t expect anything soon.

What do you think about The Dark Tower adaptation?  Have you read the book?  Give us your thoughts in the comments below.



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      1. Tiago September 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        There are 8 Dark Towers Books. The Wind Through the Keyhole, came out last year, and it is a history between part 4 e 5. There is also a short story, that is the first one called The Little Sisters of Eluria.
        Those are among the best books I have ever read in my life, including all genres, and even non-fiction. And yes, The Dark Tower is the center of King’s universe, and give even more meaning to his stories.
        I am completely against movies or TV series being made about it. Although Marvel’s HQ (10 series based on the Dark Tower) are pretty good and even relevant to the story, a movie would be a mess, and impossible to capture that story. It would be a something that wouldn’t represent what The Dark Tower series is. This is not Lord of the Rings (although King says it was inspired on Tolken’s universe).

      2. Tiago September 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

        * I mean’t Marvel’s comic books up there, sorry.

      3. Ryan Sternfels September 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm

        Good eye, Tiago! Thanks for the correction :)

      4. lance malarky September 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

        This was the thing that originally brought me to this site 6-8 months ago and I’m joyed to finally hear something again about The Dark Tower again. Although it’s a bit up in the air as to what is actually going on.
        But where to begin on this? Hmmm…
        Well, firstly, I like to say that I completely disagree with Tiago. I would love to see this as a big or small screen adaption and I believe with the right people at the helm, this would be something not like anything that has ever been seen or done before.
        I understand that the complexity would be hard to capture, what with The Drawing of The Three, the Detta/Odetta/Susannah mind-fuck thing, the demon rape, the ka-tet connection (which was lost when they tried to do something similar in the King film The Dream Catcher) the cross over of worlds and the many other unique ideas and references that are made to his other novels.
        That’s why I believe this would be best taken on as a TV series, so that the producers aren’t bound to 2 hour movies where they try to fit things in and leave other parts out. But at the end of the day, we understood the books, so why wouldn’t we understand something that we seen, especially if its done right? (and I hold my hands up, that is a big ‘IF’)
        I don’t understand the whole money aspect of it, though. The books have sold over 30 million copies and that number just keeps on climbing, so there is clearly a fan base out there.
        It’s not a superhero book, and thank fuck for that. I’m tired of these bullshit movies and yet they are more than happy to spend 200 million on both Iron Man 2 and 3.
        They always make ten fold what they put in anyway, so whats the problem? not only that, were people to watch the movies, King would get the more recognition he deserves and the book total would sky rocket.
        It’s sad to think that this genius of work only got less than tenth of the recognition as the Harry Potter series which has sold over 450 million copies…
        It just makes me want to go out and punch a child in the face and scream “you know NOTHING!”
        That all being said, I really hope they make this and I hope they do it in Kings life time. We have the technology, we have the experience of making epic journey films and we have some of the best writers and directors ‘Right here and now’ to quote a favorite King character of mine, which leads me to one last point…

        I’m slightly disappointed they are doing a Carrie remake. The reason being is simple.
        And Mr Sternfels put it brilliantly… We have been doing the same shit for 70 years! There’s nothing new, especially to horror fans, about Carrie. I’m sure Chloe will do an excellent job and the production quality will be top notch, but so fuck. I’ve seen it already and read the book.
        I want something new. And that something that I personally want to see be made, asides from The Dark Tower is Stephen Kings collaboration works with Peter Straub.
        Their two books, The Talisman and Black House would make amazing films and could be a great ice breaker for people wanting to watch The Dark Tower. It parallels along the same lines in the sense of world hopping and even mentions Roland and his Ka-Tet.
        I know remakes seem to be the big thing at the moment, but I thought that’s because they were running out of ideas, but when it comes to King, you are never short of a new concept.
        Any thoughts???

        • Tiago September 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm

          Even if it could be adapted to a movie, Ron Howard is not the right choice.
          The reasons you gave are real examples of why it is impossible to tell that story in the screen. But there are worse. The author’s digressions are real important in those books, and they don’t exist in a movie adaptation. The time in those books is very psychological, there is not a clear passage of linear time, it would seem like David Lynch dropped and acid, and without the author’s narrative it would make no sense. It can’t be done, trust me.
          One more thing, I like The Dark Tower cause it is this cult for smart and dark people. I would hate to see a Dark Tower “wanna be” that digs the hype of the movies but never read the books.

      5. lance malarky September 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm

        I agree with you Taigo, your points are loud and clear in my mind prior to writing my first comment. I can’t help but want to see it though. With regards to Howard being the man in charge, I’m in two minds about this, but if you look at his history, he has a good reputation for making good films. Not only this, for the past while that I’ve been following this on-off relationship with the movie idea, I’ve come to figure that he’s not an idiot. It seems like he’s read the books, but not only that, respects them and their deep intertwining stories. For every one book there are probably twenty stories, whether it be the characters or even the place they’re in itself.
        The time scale senario is an excellent point and I’ve got to be honest, I never really thought about that. But were I to put pen to paper, I believe it’s something that could be worked out, as with all the problems.. and better still, I believe that were it done correctly, its what would make this the next generations ‘Matrix’.
        Something that would blow people away and open their eyes to the possibility that nothing is impossible. Does that make sense?
        I’ve read the books, man, two or three times in some cases, and I know in my heart it would be something special were it to reach the screens.
        I think though, as I mentioned, its too big for the big screen. Those problems could only be worked if it were an on going project such as a TV series.
        Mayhap King could Be the narrative himself?
        With regards to the fonies, I would hate to see that too, but as I previously said, some people need to wake up. It sickens me that Twilight and Harry Potter get more recognition for works that are neither unique or different.
        This is the age of enlightenment, my friend, and although I love you saying about this being for ‘smart and dark people’, I still believe we have a choice. The option to show and encourage people to look at things in a different way, or to repress them and say ‘you want to see what happens in the next episode of 90210, don’t you?’
        I personally don’t want this to be a cult. I want it to be the norm, where all people are intelligent and open to great new concepts, in real life and story telling.
        Long days and pleasant nights, sai!
        I look forward to your thoughts and our next palaver! :)

        • Tiago September 19, 2013 at 9:22 pm

          You make solid points there. And could easily be right, who knows what may be. But I dont see: first, a reason to have faith in Kings adaptations for the screen cause none of them is half as good as the book. Second, I don’t share the same hope in mankind in that aspect. These are dark times I believe, the world has in fact, moved on.

      6. debi September 30, 2013 at 2:18 am

        make the movie: Stephen King’s “The Dark
        Tower The Gunslinger.”
        Go for it!
        It is an awesome & unbelievable series.

      7. Melissa January 28, 2014 at 12:23 am

        Without a doubt the film will fail if Roland is not casted correctly. After seeing Daniel Craig in “Cowboys vs Aliens” I like the ideas of him for the part. I see 2 others that could pull it off. I just really wish Clint Eastwood was gounger. Every time I read one of these books he is the face I see.