Ron Howard's Dark Tower Isn't Dead And Javier Bardem Isn't Cast

By Josh Tyler 2011-06-21 11:43:36discussion comments
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Ron Howardís upcoming adaptation of Stephen Kingís Dark Tower series was originally announced as one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. It was to be a project so big that it couldnít be contained in one format, to be told in different parts both on the big screen and the small screen. Then, somewhere along the way, Universalís accountants got involved and essentially said, no way, weíre not risking that much money. Now weíre not even sure if The Dark Tower will get made at all, or if it does get made whether Ron Howard will be given a big enough budget to do anything with it.

Ron and his producing partner Brian Grazer recent sat down with Deadline and offered an update on where theyíre at with The Dark Tower, and while their project isnít dead yet, things seem kind of bleak. Yet they sound determined to do it as a media format spanning project. Howard thinks thatís important and explains it this way:
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 thatís 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 wonít rehash the movies or TV, but have its own material borne out of the books and graphic novels. Weíve got gaming designers and there is enthusiasm for that. Itís a way to use all the mediums at our disposal to try to fulfill whatís possible. Universal sees this as an asset that can benefit the company in a lot of different ways.
I get excited just reading that, not only because I love The Dark Tower, but because itís a big, bold idea of the kind we havenít really seen in Hollywood since New Line Cinema risked a ton of money on shooting three Lord of the Rings movies back to back. Actually, compared to this idea, Lord of the Rings was a small thing. I guess itís easy to understand why the studio, Universal Pictures, might have blanched at the prospect of taking such a big risk. But it sounds like they may still be on board. Howard explains the delays:
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. Weíd have liked to move forward on that fast track, but it was always Phase One. There was an understanding that if we couldnít 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, thatís still moving quickly for something of this scale.
Delays we can live with, but as a fan of this series you and I know that this thing needs a massive budget if itís ever going to be done right on the big screen. Initially they were supposed to have the money they needed, but now theyíre being forced to scale it back. What no oneís sure of is just how much, and neither Howard nor Grazer will confirm how much money is being taken off the table. Grazer says:
Iím producing it with Akiva Goldsman, who wrote it to be sensitive to cost and is rewriting it to be more so. Without putting a number on it, the cuts arenít that deep or that radical.
As for where they are with casting, last we heard it was all but a done deal for Javier Bardem to play Roland, the movieís lead. But now they seem to be leaving the door open for someone else to take the part. When asked of Javierís set to play Roland, Ron Howard responded this way:
Nobody is pay or play but he has said he wants to do it. Weíve spent a lot of time together. Heís fascinated by the character and has great instincts for Roland. Iím hoping when we go, heís available and will join us.

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