Universal Passes on Ron Howard’s Film and Television Adaptation of THE DARK TOWER

     July 18, 2011

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It may have been too good to be true. After first committing to an incredibly ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s series The Dark Tower that spanned three films and two seasons of a TV show, Universal put the brakes on the project asking director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman to scale the project down to make for a more feasible budget. The summer start date was pushed back to early next year while everyone involved worked to bring the budget down.

Well now it looks like the new version of the adaptation wasn’t scaled-down enough, as Universal has passed on financing the ambitious undertaking. Hit the jump for the details.

Howard and Co. were ready to go with Javier Bardem attached to play the lead and Battlestar Galactica writer/producer Mark Verheiden onboard to co-write the TV series, but Deadline reports that Universal just couldn’t commit to the current budget. After receiving the scripts for the first film and the first season of the TV series, the report states that Universal agreed to finance the film but would not commit to the TV series.

The adaptation was pretty much unparalleled, with Bardem set to star in the three films and the second season of the TV series (the first season would have been a flashback of the characters of the first film, with a younger actor taking on Bardem’s role). It was definitely a stretch, especially seeing as how Universal had just passed on Guillermo del Toro’s $150 million R-rated adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness (and that’s with James Cameron and Tom Cruise onboard).

Howard recently committed to directing the Formula 1 racing drama Rush, which is scheduled to start production later this year, but many had hoped that this just meant the production of The Dark Tower would be pushed back a few months, though it now appears that Howard saw the writing on the wall.

Just because Universal passed doesn’t mean the project is dead, as the report claims that Warner Bros. is a possible landing place (they’re on the hunt for a new franchise with the conclusion of Harry Potter), but a project this size is a major gamble given that the property isn’t exactly a largely known commodity (not to mention the fact that it blends the genres of Western and sci-fi).

It’s possible that Howard’s The Dark Tower could eventually come to fruition, but it’s hard to imagine the film/TV series model will remain. It’s simply too costly, even if it is creatively impressive. In the meantime, Rush is a promising property as it focuses on the Formula 1 racing rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, with Chris Hemsworth and Inglourious Basterds star Daniel Brühl circling the starring roles.

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