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It looks like Universal has closed their deal to bring Stephen King’s Dark Tower series to life, in an unprecedented joint venture between the studio’s film and television divisions. As we first told you here back in April they were working on a deal which would turn the Dark Tower books both into a movie and a TV series, all at once. Now that deal, according to THR is done.
With the solidification of their plan we have a few more specific details on just exactly how it’ll happen. One of the real challenges in bringin King’s series to life in feature film form is the sheer size and scope of the thing. It spans seven books, several of which could easily require multiple films on their own. They’ve solved that problem by bridging the story between multiple platforms. The Dark Tower will be a movie franchise and a television series, all at once. Here’s the plan.
Step 1: They’ll kick it off with a movie, presumably the movie will tell the story of the first book, The Gunslinger which is a shorter book and extremely cinematic. They could also maybe fit in The Drawing of the Three in which the Gunslinger Roland meets his companions.
Step 2: That movie will be immediately followed by a TV series which will pick up where the movie leaves off. A TV series is the ideal format to tackle some of the longer, more episodic stories.
Step 3: The TV series will then lead into a second feature film.
Step 4: After that second feature film, a TV series will then cover the events of the book Wizard and Glass in which the story of Roland’s youth is retold.
Step 5: That will then launch into a third feature film… perhaps to wrap the story up or maybe simply to take the next step. Whether they end it there or plan more movies and more television presumably depends on audience response.
But all told we’re getting, at the least, a Dark Tower movie trilogy and an accompanying television series, presumably all telling the same linear story using the same casts. Ron Howard will direct the first film and the first season of the TV series to ensure continuity. It’s pretty unprecedented. Hollywood has never tried anything like it before, and I can’t think of a more perfect way to handle The Dark Tower. It’s a story too big to be told by movies or television alone. It’ll take them both and it'll take doing something that's never, ever, been done before.
Now that this seems to be a done deal, one of the big questions lingering is what channel will the TV series end up on? The Dark Tower is pretty hard-R material and network television would seem spectacularly unsuited to handle the mind of Stephen King. That could be a problem because Universal is behind the deal and they aren't involved with any of the edgy television networks like HBO or Showtime.
Universal has channels like NBC, USA, Bravo, and SyFy. Unless they plan on putting it on NBC primetime, SyFy is the only likely candidate for something like Dark Tower, but they're basic cable and unlikely to show rated-R content. Still, SyFy did air Battlestar Galactica a show which, though it never crossed the basic cable censorship line, often skirted near it. It could work, but I'd rather have The Dark Tower on HBO.