Jul 19, 2011

Universal Dumps Dark Tower: Insert Architectural Pun Here

After a previous delay in production, NBC Universal has officially cut loose Ron Howard's epic plans to adapt Stephen King's Dark Tower series.  For those of you who haven't been following the bouncing ball, Howard and his Imagine cohorts were planning on shooting three films as well as two limited-run TV series based on the tale of King's gunslinger Roland Deschain.  Originally planned for a summer start, the project was pushed back to February, with Battlestar Galactica scribe Mark Verheiden brought on to co-write one of the series and Anton Chigurh himself, Javier Bardem signed to play Deschain (after a seemingly unending back-and-forth between Bardem and Viggo Mortensen).

According to the ubiquitous Deadline Hollywood, Universal had planned on knocking the budget down considerably, (thus the production delay) however in the end they were only willing to greenlight the one movie, which didn't really work for Howard as they had planned on shooting the first TV series simultaneously while the actors and sets were still in place for the film.  Seems Opie is nothing if not ambitious, but in the end Universal had to balk at the budget.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I can't help but feel sorry for Universal, especially after the super-heated interweb backlash when the studio backed out of Guillermo del Toro's plans for Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness.  Unfortunately for Universal, they've spent the last few years rolling the dice on cool-but-risky projects with fantastic talent attached (i.e. Scott Pilgrim, Your Highness, Land Of The Lost) and unfortunately they've largely come up snake eyes with audiences.  In that light, I can't blame them for passing on stuff like this in favor of Fast & Furious 6 or Despicable Me 2.

Silver lining to the story?  Howard can now take the project to another studio.  The most likely candidate seems to be Warner Brothers, who just closed up shop on the money factory that is Harry Potter.

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