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September 10, 2010

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NBC Universal Obtains Rights to Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ and Plans Combination Feature Film/TV Series Adaptation

Posted by on Sep 10, 2010

Things I like just keep happening in droves these days. Universal and NBC have just inked a deal to make a movie trilogy, a la Lord of the Rings, out of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.

I’d also like to note that there appears to be a correlation between something being made into a major motion picture and articles I write on NNAR… just saying. Read on for more details about The Dark Tower.

Initial plans are for Ron Howard to direct a feature length film, followed by the first season of a TV series starring the same characters and continuing the story.  This will be followed by a second feature film that picks up where the TV season left off.  The story will then jump back to TV for a season or two, and will finally be finished with a third movie.  The story will all be connected to the prequel story lines from the comic we mentioned a few days ago. Most importantly, King is going to have an active role in developing the scripts.

This sounds like one of the coolest, most ambitious film projects ever, and I’m really interested to see where it goes. As long as Ron Howard faithfully depicts the world the ways he describes it, as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone,” I think it could be just fine. Scratch that…. it could be bloody (literally) awesome.

However, I do have some concerns, in this order:

  1. What if they do it wrong?  This is like Lord of the Rings – it’s an epic masterpiece with a faithful following of millions of people around the globe. If you don’t respect the story and it’s world, the whole thing will backfire and be awful.
  2. They do not appear to be following the LOTR approach of filming everything at once. This was critical to Lord of the Rings success, because it made sure the whole thing was produced – I worry that they’ll make the first one, and have it ‘not be successful’, and give up.
  3. The Dark Tower is long as hell – This series could well be twice as long as Lord of the Rings. It’s seven books, and I’m not sure they naturally break into three parts.
  4. How do you maintain continuity between the movies and the TV seasons? Are they going to just continue the same story line in separate mediums, so that when they’re done you’ll have to watch Movie > 13 episodes >Movie > 15 episodes > Movie just to get the whole story? And I thought LOTR Extended Edition was long…

I’m not sure about the first three concerns, but an awesome approach to my fourth concern would be to tell the main storyline in the movies, and side stories in the TV portion. For instance, the entirety of Wizard and Glass could be made into a season of TV, without significantly disrupting the movie storyline.

Either way, I’m psyched. Hopefully it will hit just after A Song of Ice and Fire finishes up on HBO, and I’ll be able to go on a fantasy TV/movie bender.

  • Honestly, I’m really only concerned about the first two points. They have to do it right, and they have to do it all. If those two hold, then I think the other two will take care of themselves.

    For point three, it doesn’t have to break into 3 parts, but rather three parts for movies and at least two additional parts, maybe more for TV. Also, if we stipulate that they do it well, this will be taken care of.

    As nerds, we read comic series, we watch long TV series a la Lost, and we read long book series like The Wheel of Time and The Dark Tower. As long as they are done in the right way, I don’t care that it’ll be long since I’ll watch it. I don’t really care if the average person wants to spend that long watching it. As long as it gets made and made well, I’ll be happy.

    Time to start reading.

  • Anonymous

    I think I know how they could cut it up into fewer pieces than seven that make sense, because of storylines don’t confine themselves to one book. By that I mean that things like Blaine and the drawing continue beyond the book that they start in. The Gunslinger is finite, Mejis in Wizard and Glass is finite, and Calla is finite, but just about everything else takes multiple books to resolve. But I should really just talk to Chris about this until the rest of you read these damn books!!!

  • 1) This is always an issue for everything, which actually makes it a non-issue.
    2) Lord of the Rings also only got the okay to be produced all at once because it was guaranteed to be successful. Remember: it was also supposed to only be two movies. On the other hand, Disney, is continuing to make Narnia movies…
    3) Isn’t that what the TV series is for?
    4) I like your approach to this concern, but am convinced it’s just gonna be like Serenity.