Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Says He Spoke to Ron Howard about Producing THE DARK TOWER

     May 1, 2013


Director Ron Howard’s adaptation of the Stephen King book series The Dark Tower has had an incredibly rough development process.  Given the sprawling nature of the book series, Howard, producer Brian Grazer, and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman planned an ambitious adaptation that would play out over three feature films and two limited seasons of a TV series.  Howard first set the project up at Universal with Javier Bardem in talks to take on the lead role of Roland Deschain, but as development progressed and the budget swelled, Universal got cold feet and pushed the production start date back just a few months before filming was poised to begin.

Though Howard, Grazer, and Goldsman worked to try and make the budget for The Dark Tower manageable, Universal ultimately decided to drop the project altogether.  Warner Bros. flirted with the idea of producing the project before passing as well, and last we heard Media Rights Capital was in “serious talks” to finance the project.  While we haven’t heard much about The Dark Tower in the meantime, Netflix Chief Creative Offficer Ted Sarandos recently revealed that he has had discussions with Howard about The Dark Tower on Netflix.  Hit the jump for more.

the-dark-tower-netflixAfter the immense success of the Kevin Spacey-led original series House of Cards, Netflix is currently gearing up for the release of 15 new episodes of Arrested Development.  The folks at Stuff recently took part in an interview with Sarandos, and they asked if there was any chance that Netflix could pick up Arrested Development narrator Ron Howard’s The Dark Tower adaptation, to which he replied:

“I spoke to Ron about it, actually. The last time we talked about it the thing was being kicked about HBO – but it’s no longer there. Once Arrested Development gets through we’ll keep talking about it.”

While it’s clear that there’s nothing concrete in the works, it sounds like Sarandos is open to the idea of being part of The Dark Tower.  It’s tough to imagine that the streaming and DVD service would be financially able to shoulder the cost of such an ambitious fantasy adaptation, but if Howard can finally get financing for the feature films it’s conceivable that a deal could be worked out to premiere the TV component on Netflix.

Ever since Netflix announced that it was reviving Arrested Development, the service has been inundated with requests to bring back other cancelled shows like Jericho, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly.  While Sarandos said he would “absolutely” consider bringing back Twin Peaks, he hinted that talks to revive Jericho didn’t lead anywhere, noting that the decision was “on the bubble.”  Sarandos added a blanket statement about Netflix reviving old series:

“Let me give you one broad statement about these recovery shows. In almost every case the cult around the show gets more intense and smaller as time goes by. Arrested Development was the rarest of birds in that the audience of the show grew larger than the original broadcast audience because people came to discover it years after it was cancelled. The Firefly fan is still the Firefly fan from when it was on TV and there’s fewer of them and they’re more passionate every year. Whereas with Arrested Development we’re going to be serving a multiple of the original audience. Any of the other shows we could bring back would be a fraction of the original audience.”

So it sounds like Netflix will be moving cautiously in the future with regards to reviving old or cancelled shows, but original content is their primary focus at the moment.  You can read the full interview over at Stuff.


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  • jk

    I disagree with his assessment of the Firefly fan. More people found that show on DVD than when it was on TV. And I think with the success and prominence of Joss Whedon in the last year, Firefly’s popularity will only grow. Sounds like a missed opportunity to me–if Whedon was even available to go back to Firefly

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  • Mariusz

    @jk – it’s not like it was his opinion. The guy has access to Netflix streaming data – he knows how many ppl are watching AD, how many are watching Firefly and on top of that he knows how those numbers were changing year over year.

    They are basing their decisions on real data, not intuition. I got more friends that are watching Firefly than AD but my personal experience is statistically irrelevant. Besides comedies do have broader appeal than sci-fi (and cost less to make). But yeah – no point argueing with Mr Sarandos – he has the data, we don’t.

    • Anon

      Regardless of what data he has, there’s no way there are fewer Firefly fans than when it was on TV. I’ve yet to meet a single Firefly fan who watched it on its initial run (that’s why the show is such an anomaly). That said a couple of things would lead to higher AD date. It’s a three season comedy. It’s far less likely that someone would invest in buying all three seasons, in addition it’s more likely that (since it’s a comedy) people would keep coming back in order to watch singles episodes where as generally when people watch Firefly they watch it all the way through so fewer viewings. Also the Firefly Blu Rays and DVDs are constantly on sale so it’s pretty likely that a lot of the big Firefly fans have already bought it therefore they don’t need to watch it on Netflix. Data doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

  • mmm

    Deadwood, dear netflix. Deadwood.

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  • SwankyBP

    Uh, hello…PUSHING DAISIES!!

  • Lens Flares Suck

    Stargate Atlantis, please.

  • BillyBumbler

    Ka is a wheel

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