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Now that we’re getting a “Batman vs. Superman” movie and a plethora of new Star Wars movies, the “Will They Ever Get Made?” conversations can officially focus on Ron Howard’s nearly mythical adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. My hopes for this project have been going up and down more than [insert Miley Cyrus joke]. When Warner Bros. passed on the project a little over a year ago, it looked like all was lost, but Howard is now telling Empire that the Gunslinger has not yet put the Sandalwoods away, and that even though progress has been delayed, the project is very much alive. But given how ridiculous Internet journalism and rumors can get (guilty!), they’re not going to be very up front about where they are in the process for a while.
“The Dark Tower is something that we’re still working on,” Howard said in the Empire Podcast. “We’ve all taken a vow of silence about the progress, the headway, what we think our timetable is, because I don’t think I realized how much media interest there was in the title and how much excitement there was.” I wonder if Howard’s return to the Dan Brown universe for Angels and Demons was easier, given expectations and excitement for it weren’t much louder than a “hectic murmur.”
“It’s a fascinating, powerful possibility, and even Stephen King acknowledges it’s a tricky adaptation,” Howard continued, “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 that’s what we love about it, and that’s what we want to try to get to the screen.” Short of invoking some Satanic entity and casting it in the role of Randall Flagg, it doesn’t seem likely that the novels’ darkness can properly be transitioned into a film narrative, but I love that they don’t want to brighten up the material solely to guarantee funding. Principles in Hollywood aren’t always so easy to come by.
And though Goldsman, his frequent co-writing partner, is currently working on the dark fantasy A Winter’s Tale, Howard says, “So my answer is, it got delayed, it’s never gone away. We’re working on it, and Stephen is very patient with us…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.“
When asked if he was going to put King into the narrative as the author did, Howard said he “will admit Stephen has said, ‘I don’t have to be in this.’ But that’s not to say that he won’t be!” So if you say that it isn’t necessarily going to be excluded from a film that may or may not one day exist, the rule of negatives has to come into this at some point.
You can catch Howard’s latest film Rush when it comes out in theaters this weekend. Meanwhile, give the Empire Podcast a listen below.