Ron Howard and Brian Grazer Discuss The Dark Tower's Adaptation, Budget Delay, and Casting
06.21.11 by Ryan
When Universal announced last May that director Ron Howard, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and producer Brian Grazer would be adapting Stephen King's massive, sprawling The Dark Tower series — which consists of seven novels (soon to be eight) and a short story — into a trilogy of movies with two TV series to premiere in-between, it seemed like an extremely ambitious plan. While trilogies are a common thing for movie franchises, with some extending beyond just a trilogy, it's unprecedented to have two TV series help bridge the gap between movies. In a recent interview with Deadline, Howard explained the reason behind the adaptation plan.
The universe Steve King created is so dimensional and creative. It blends scope, sweep, and adventure with some very personal compelling stories. We could have tried to force all of it into one or two or three movies. It became clear to me that the medium of TV has become so bold and cool, we could use it to our advantage creatively and really fulfill the possibilities of this universe of characters King gave us to work with. We can use the intimacy of television when that’s appropriate, and the scope and scale of the big screen with the bigger fantasy ideas. We discovered elements that would probably never have a home either on the big screen or on TV, but would make fantastic narrative gaming opportunities that won’t rehash the movies or TV, but have its own material borne out of the books and graphic novels. We’ve got gaming designers and there is enthusiasm for that. It’s a way to use all the mediums at our disposal to try to fulfill what’s possible. Universal sees this as an asset that can benefit the company in a lot of different ways.
While Howard feels Universal sees The Dark Tower "as an asset," the studio did get nervous about the budget and moved the movie's production start from September to early next spring. Howard said the scheduling move was actually helpful.
The first version represented a bold attempt to fast track, because of weather concerns. It was a little more dramatic to people on the outside than to us. We’d have liked to move forward on that fast track, but it was always Phase One. There was an understanding that if we couldn’t answer all the questions in a way that made sense to all the partners involved, then we would operate on a slightly more traditional timetable. Even if we go in March, that’s still moving quickly for something of this scale.
There's still the issue of The Dark Tower's budget, but Grazer claims that Goldman's script was "sensitive to cost" and that Goldman's rewrites will help bring down the cost even more. Still, Grazer says that the budget cuts "aren’t that deep or that radical."
As for who will play the lead role of gunslinger Roland Deschain, odds are still good that Javier Bardem will play the role. While the actor was "officially" cast in April, the delay on production could mean that Bardem is unavailable when Howard and his crew start shooting. Howard sounds hopeful, if not confident, that Barden will play the role, however.
Nobody is pay or play but he has said he wants to do it. We’ve spent a lot of time together. He’s fascinated by the character and has great instincts for Roland. I’m hoping when we go, he’s available and will join us.
Universal has scheduled The Dark Tower for release on May 17, 2013, and has yet to change the date, despite delaying production.