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Warning: spoilers for The Dark Tower are in play. Read on at your own risk, otherwise bookmark this article for reading after reading the books / watching the film.
The Dark Tower has always stood out as Stephen King's tribute to epics such as Lord of the Rings, as Roland Deschain's journey spans as wide of a berth, and as perilous of an undertaking. And much like J.R.R. Tolkien's literary masterpiece, there's an important macguffin that pushes the quest to The Dark Tower along its merry path: The Horn of Eld. At the very least, it's going to be important to the film adaptation of King's book series, as it explains why the current approach to the story works, and why it's going to pull from all seven books at once, rather than play things straight.
Deadline recently spoke with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, as the two are celebrating 30 years together as producing partners at Imagine Entertainment. A good portion of those three decades has been spent on trying to get The Dark Tower onto the big screen, and Howard described how he was sold onto the project, as Akiva Goldsman pitched this endeavor to him while the pair were working on their Best Picture winner A Beautiful Mind. It was in that pitch that Brian Grazer would change everything for the better, as Howard recalled:
We started talking about what it could be. I read all the novels and we broke them down. He [Grazer] presented this idea to Stephen King, and this is insider material you might not get, but it was about introducing the Horn of Eld into the very first story. He knew it would allow us to use elements of the novels in a new combination that would give us the latitude to be true to the essence of the novels, but also re-balance and refocus the narrative in a cinematic way.
Basically, the way The Dark Tower's story is set up in the books hints at the fact that this isn't Roland's first dance against the Man In Black. Furthermore, each battle would result in the Horn of Eld being left on the battlefield. Though as we've seen in the teaser post that Stephen King himself has shared, Roland's retention of the Horn of Eld in this variation of his journey signals that this could be the final roundup for our Gunslinger supreme. With that approach in mind, another change was executed to keep things interesting: Roland and his young ka-tet, Jake, will start developing their relationship from square one.
This was another one of the creative liberties afforded to Ron Howard, Nikolaj Arcel, and the rest of The Dark Tower's creative crew at Imagine when they had The Dark Tower up and running. Once the project was recently resurrected by Sony Pictures, after both Universal and Warner Bros both flirted with bringing the seven books to life, another change was made that would alter the story's telling. Ron Howard signaled as much, as he continued his story:
When MRC and Modi Wiczyk became involved, that discussion deepened and we focused more on the Jake Chambers-Roland relationship at the very center of the first movie as a way of launching the universe. We simplified the story line, made it less expensive as a result, but we still utilized a lot of those important structural adjustments that Akiva and I had devised going back years ago.
So now Jake will now be an important part of The Dark Tower's story from the beginning, rather than starting as a bit of a minor character who would then go on to be upgraded in standing by the third book, The Wastelands. It's another change that this unique adaptation of a Stephen King property can claim as its own, and we'll get to see just how Roland and Jake's relationship has changed as The Dark Tower looms over movie-goers on February 17, 2017. In the meantime, footage of the first film should be dropping before the year is out. As soon as we've got word that this is in the works, we'll share it with you first.