The Dark Tower Screenwriter Opens Up About What Happened To The Stephen King Blockbuster And His 'Regret'

There was disappointment abound in the summer of 2017 when director Nicolaj Arcel's The Dark Tower arrived in theaters. Critics panned the film, Stephen King fans felt shortchanged when comparing the adaptation to the beloved series, and what was intended to be a franchise-starter instead turned out to be a worldwide flop. Nearly four years after its premiere, it's a wound that still stings – and it's resulted in screenwriter Akiva Goldsman regretting a lot about the project that didn't work out.

Goldsman first got involved with The Dark Tower in 2010 when Universal Pictures began plans to adapt the story simultaneously across multiple mediums, and the filmmaker was specifically asked about that era of development during a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Brushing past the aspect of the question wondering if any of the material was still in any way active, the Oscar-winning screenwriter instead took the opportunity to explain that he ultimately wasn't happy with the way that the 2017 film turned out, and that far superior big screen takes on the Stephen King epic came and went long before the version that was released on the silver screen:

I have a lot of regret about the parts of that that didn't work out. Our best version of that existed well before television-movie crossovers and streaming were a thing. I have a lot of affection for the books that didn't end up onscreen [in the 2017 movie The Dark Tower]. And Ron Howard had this idea of what could be done across platforms — he didn't touch the movie, but sometimes things slip away.

During The Dark Tower's time at Universal, the project was the subject of a ridiculous amount of back-and-forth and push-and-pull that eventually saw the studio lose faith in its potential. Belts were tightened and scripts were rewritten as budgetary concerns began to rule conversations, and by July 2011 Universal decided to cancel all their plans. For a time Warner Bros. was looking into getting things going again, but they eventually passed too, and it wasn't until April 2015 that Sony Pictures got involved and fast-tracked the single movie that eventually got made.

In the span of a few years, The Dark Tower adaptation went from having ambitious plans akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to becoming a $60 million blockbuster that ended up being under 90 minutes long. Akiva Goldsman says that there are aspects of the movie that he still appreciates, including Idris Elba's turn as Roland Deschain, but notes that the end result is the outcome of a classic "too many cooks in the kitchen" scenario.

There are things about that [film] I still admire, and Idris Elba [played a] really wonderful Roland. I think there were too many different points of view — mine included — when it came to figuring out how to tell a cogent story onscreen, and we could have done better.

So will we ever get to see Hollywood try another crack at The Dark Tower? There have been attempts, but sadly they haven't worked out – with the most prominent being an Amazon Prime streaming series that was in the works for a while before it fell apart. That being said, Stephen King adaptations continue to have a lot of heat, so it would be silly to totally give up on the idea.

If we do wind up hearing about any more plans for either big screen or small screen plans for Roland Deschain and The Man In Black, you'll be sure to find it in our constantly updating Upcoming Stephen King Movies And TV guide, so stay tuned.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.