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

     June 21, 2011

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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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