Ron Howard and Brian Grazer Talk THE DARK TOWER, Give Update on Reduced-Budget Script Changes

     June 21, 2011


To say Ron Howard’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is ambitious is a bit of an understatement. When the project was first announced, it was hard to believe that something like that could get made in this budget-conscious age. Howard and producer Brian Grazer’s plan for The Dark Tower was to make three films and two seasons of a TV show, with the TV components bridging the gap between the larger-scale films. When it actually looked like this crazy concoction might happen, Universal pulled the production start-date (which was supposed to be this fall) and was working with Howard and co. to bring the budget down.

While some fans were concerned that the whole project may be waylaid, Howard and Grazer recently sat down to talk about the adaptation and they seem quite optimistic, stating that screenwriter Akiva Goldsman is now at work rewriting his screenplays to bring the budget down. Hit the jump to see what else the producing duo had to say about The Dark Tower.

Speaking with Deadline, the two were asked how significant the script rewrites will be and how much the “budget-conscious” script will differ from their original vision:

Grazer: “I’m producing it with Akiva Goldsman, who wrote it to be sensitive to cost and is rewriting it to be more so. Without putting a number on it, the cuts aren’t that deep or that radical.”

It’s certainly good to hear that the new script for the adaptation won’t be drastically different than their original vision.

Javier Bardem has been mentioned as having signed on/being in talks/rumored to play the main character Roland Deschain. While many worried that the production delay would throw his involvement into doubt, Howard sounds optimistic:

Howard: “Nobody is pay or play but he has said he wants to do it. We’ve spent a lot of time together. He’s fascinated by the character and has great instincts for Roland. I’m hoping when we go, he’s available and will join us.

It sounds like it all hinges on what Bardem’s schedule looks like when they finally get around to shooting Dark Tower. Speaking of which, Howard talked about the delayed production and said the plan is now to start in March:

Howard: “The first version represented a bold attempt to fast track, because of weather concerns. It was a little more dramatic to people on the outside than to us. We’d have liked to move forward on that fast track, but it was always Phase One.  There was an understanding that if we couldn’t answer all the questions in a way that made sense to all the partners involved, then we would operate on a slightly more traditional timetable. Even if we go in March, that’s still moving quickly for something of this scale.”

However, that March start date is presumably hinging on a green light, as last we heard the film still lacked that key component. It sounds like everyone’s waiting on Goldsman’s revised script. If Universal finds it to their liking, and the project looks financially feasible, hopefully The Dark Tower will get off the ground next year.

The ambitious nature of this adaptation is virtually unparalleled. Goldsman is not only writing the screenplay for the films, but is committed to the first season of the television show as well. The plan for the TV component is that the first season will be a prequel of sorts to the films, showing Deschain as a young man, with a younger actor taking on the role so Bardem gets a little time off. The second season will bridge the gap between films two and three, with Bardem presumably involved in that portion of the TV component. Howard spoke about why they decided to expand the story into the television medium:

Howard: “The universe Steve King created is so dimensional and creative. It blends scope, sweep, and adventure with some very personal compelling stories. We could have tried to force all of it into one or two or three movies. It became clear to me that the medium of TV has become so bold and cool, we could use it to our advantage creatively and really fulfill the possibilities of this universe of characters King gave us to work with. We can use the intimacy of television when that’s appropriate, and the scope and scale of the big screen with the bigger fantasy ideas. We discovered elements that would probably never have a home either on the big screen or on TV, but would make fantastic narrative gaming opportunities that won’t rehash the movies or TV, but have its own material borne out of the books and graphic novels. We’ve got gaming designers and there is enthusiasm for that. It’s a way to use all the mediums at our disposal to try to fulfill what’s possible. Universal sees this as an asset that can benefit the company in a lot of different ways.”

So it sounds like they’re also thinking of a gaming component to the adaptation, to ensure that they’ve covered every media outlet available. All in all, I’m definitely pulling for everything to come together. As an avid film/TV fan, the thought of a story being told over the span of two mediums, totaling countless hours of storytelling, all with the same consistent behind-the-scenes team is really, really cool. Hopefully Goldsman’s revised script puts Universal at ease, and we finally get an epic-scale adaptation of The Dark Tower.

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  • Phoenix

    Why couldn’t they just make seven films out of this?

    I understand their ambition but I would’ve loved to see a Harry Potter like series come out of this property.

    • sloan

      seriously! There is no way in hell they are going to be able to fit the wolves, Susannah/Mia, the actual Dark Tower into a third movie, if that’s their plan. Not to mention Wastlands and the Drawing. It’s going to really leave out a lot of important stuff

      • Mike

        I’m towards the end of my first reading of the saga. I don’t understand how they can make The Gunslinger/Drawing of the Three and The Wastelands into one move either! I assume that’s what they’re doing right? But then what is the 2nd movie about? or do they move the Roland/Susan prequel story to earlier in the saga?

  • Marc

    I’m a huge fan of the books, flaws and all, but I think they are seriously misjudging the fanbase for these novels. True, to faithfully adapt the novels you’d probably need 7 films or 3 TV shows or whatever the hell is they’re thinking of….but the Dark Tower ain’t no Harry Potter (in the sense of mass popularity) Dark Tower fans are a small but avid community. Harry Potter was a pop-cultural phenomenon. I’d be scared to spend even HALF what was spent on Harry Potter to make these movies.

    But all that said, I’ll be first in line when it’s out. There’ll be water if God wills it Ron. It’s ka.

  • kungfukid

    the problem is that even though Howard can be a very good director once in a while, Akiva Goldsman to me is a terrible writer. one of the most overpaid and famous bad writers in Hollywood.

    i’m not familiar with The Dark Tower material(and have no plans to read the book) but it looks like Howard wants this to be his Lord Of the Rings. something that defines his career(and what he probably needs now creatively).

    the great Ron Howard that i saw was in Frost/Nixon, but i think partly because Goldsman didn’t write the script, but the talented Peter Morgan. hopefully, we see a great tandem between Goldsman the writer, and Howard the director(the last time i saw A Beautiful Mind was in 2003, when i was 11)

    • M&M

      ‘Akiva Goldsman to me is a terrible writer. one of the most overpaid and famous bad writers in Hollywood.” – TESTIFY!!!

  • Wolstenholme

    If they have to rewrite it to be sensitive to cost, then there’s your sign you shouldn’t be making it.

    I think Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard and Bryan Grazier arethree of the stupidest fucking people in the business and should crash and burn in a porsche

  • Kenny B

    Let the public get a taste for Roland and his ka-tet.

    Build it and they will come.

  • Dogg

    Just the latest of Howard’s horrible decisions. The books are too abstract and meandering. Are they really going to push a wheelchair through half the movie? Are they going to keep Stephen King as a character? How will they depict the “beams” and why would we care about saving them? It’s just a mess. I think Howard’s reverted back to Willow mode.

  • swans183

    They say lower budgets fuel creativity. Let’s hope this is true!

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  • Alex–

    No chance in hell howard will be able to do the books or the characters justice. The guy is marshmallow soft.

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  • maryjanesuncle

    Screwed before it starts….no one involved has the chops to do this..and Bardem is no Roland…Well be prepared for a flop and the mangling of a great epic tale….

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