Why The Dark Tower Movie Was So Challenging To Make, According To Stephen King

The Dark Tower Idris Elba gunslinging the crowd to death

There's a sneaking suspicion that the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower is going to become a future curiosity among fans of the author's work. While the film didn't light the box office on fire, it's not due to lack of trying. But at the end of the day, turning the monolithic eight book series into a cogent film and TV series is pretty hard, which is part of King himself's thoughts on why the endeavor was so complicated in the first place. The author further elaborated on that point, saying:

The major challenge was to do a film based on a series of books that's really long, about 3,000 pages. The other part of it was the decision to do a PG-13 feature adaptation of books that are extremely violent and deal with violent behavior in a fairly graphic way. That was something that had to be overcome, although I've gotta say, I thought [screenwriter] Akiva Goldsman did a terrific job in taking a central part of the book and turning it into what I thought was a pretty good movie.

So the main handicap to The Dark Tower's production, at least in Stephen King's perspective, was the blockbuster friendly rating the film was aiming for. Knowing King's work, even on a cursory level, will tell you that making a film based on such works with anything other than an R-rating can be problematic for most of the stories you'd think to adapt. But taking into account the epic saga of Roland the Gunslinger, and the sorts of death and torture that are conveyed throughout his journey to reach the Tower, the PG-13 rating was as big a surprise as the fact that Nikolaj Arcel's film was more of a sequel than an adaptation.

Of course, even with an R-rating, The Dark Tower's film version still had another, greater problem to contend with: how to tell Stephen King's massive story in what was proposed as a trilogy of films, with a TV prequel. Even with the briskest of pacing, and the fact that the first book, The Gunslinger, is the shortest in the series, the Sony summer release did feel extremely light when it came to how dense Dark Tower lore tends to be. So while King may have thought that the film was pretty good, there's a chance that a more mature, slower paced film could have been the best way to go.

Though while The Dark Tower's movie incarnation may have, for all intents and purposes, crashed and burned, there still seems to be hope. One gets that sense when looking at another remark Stephen King made to Vulture about how the series will move forward, especially in the TV realm:

The TV series they're developing now ... we'll see what happens with that. It would be like a complete reboot, so we'll just have to see.

With this series serving as an adaptation of flashback sequences from The Gunslinger and Wizard and Glass, the supposedly book friendly adaptation the TV show is crafting may just serve as a way to give Dark Tower fans the live-action version of their beloved saga. What's more, it feels like King may be suggesting that the film series / sequel is pretty much dead in the water, though if this reboot idea works out in the right ways, it might just breathe new life into the Idris Elba lead franchise yet. Somehow.

For now, though, you could probably catch The Dark Tower in a handful of theaters in your area. Though if you're looking to get yourself as far away from that film's presence as possible, you can check out the 2017 release schedule to see what the remainder of the year has to offer.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.