For many years, plans for an ambitious multi-part and multi-format screen adaptation of Stephen King’s fantasy novel series “The Dark Tower” was in the works. Those plans however were effectively scuttled along the way, in their place came 2017’s abomination of a one-off film.
Despite the presence of Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and high profile producers like Ron Howard, the movie was a complete flop critically and commercially. However it turns out it wasn’t just the audience who were disappointed with the adaptation, so to were those involved in it including Howard himself.
The veteran filmmaker spoke with the Happy Sad Confused podcast this week and admitted that there were several shortcomings with “The Dark Tower” film:
“I think it should’ve been horror. I think that it landed in a place – both in our minds and the studio’s – that it could be PG-13 and sort of a boy’s adventure… I really think we made a mistake not – I mean I’m not sure we could’ve made this movie, but I think if we could’ve made a darker, more hard-boiled look and make it The Gunslinger’s character study more than Jake. I think in retrospect that would’ve been more exciting. We always felt like we were kind of holding back something, and I think at the end of the day it was that.”
In 2010, Howard was attached to direct a feature film trilogy with a connected two-season TV series, but no studio was going to finance it. Instead, the resulting adaptation was a single film abridged version of the books. Looking back, Howard now says he’s disappointed they didn’t try to do it as a TV series only route:
“The other thing might’ve been to just straight-on tackle it as television first. Disappointing because I poured a lot of myself into it, and sometimes this happens on these projects where everybody’s best intentions – you’re all pulling in a direction, and then you sort of say, ‘Was that the right direction?’ And I wouldn’t say it was all compromise. I do think it was just a sense of maybe too much listening to what you think that the marketplace is calling for instead of the essence of what Stephen King was giving us.”
The property is now trying that approach with a forthcoming Amazon series adaptation which is in development and hopes to treat the source material right this time.