After years in Development Hell, Stephen King’s magnum opus series, The Dark Tower, is finally heading to the big screen and, like Shardik, it appears that there is no stopping the momentum. Today, it appears that Sony is zooming in on a director for at least the first film in the series and if the rumors are true, it looks like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo scribe, Nikolaj Arcel is the man in the crosshairs.
The news comes to us from Deadline and the report indicates that Arcel is the frontrunner for taking up the reins once thought to be held by Ron Howard, who will now be sitting in the Producer’s chair alongside Stephen King. Arcel, for his part, couldn’t be more excited at the prospect, having learned English specifically to read King’s works in their native tongue. While this doesn’t necessarily call forth the same relationship with All-World that frequent Dark Tower collaborator Robin Furth can boast, the fact that Arcel is such a huge fan should help instill a bit of confidence in the fans, especially since that passion is what attracted Sony to Arcel in the first place. Arcel will also oversee the rewrite of the script which was last touched by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner.
As longtime fans of King’s massive series are no doubt aware, the road to get The Dark Tower to the big screen has been a long, complicated road, rife with financial issues that stem from Ron Howard’s original vision for the project. Howard, for his part, offered the perfect, if pricey, solution to present audiences with a faithful adaptation of the story: produce 3 full length feature films with a companion television series to fill in the gaps for the seven(and a half)-book series. While being a brilliant strategy, it is a strategy that called for a lot of faith from the prospective studio, as well as a very extended time commitment from the actors willing to play the characters in the story, which eventually led Warner Bros., then Universal, to walk away from the project. With new bigwigs looking to make a nice splash over at Sony, though, the project was resurrected, mostly intact, and audiences will be getting Howard’s original plan, though it will likely be scaled down a bit from his original vision, of which we can see a bit of below, in conceptual illustrator Gregory Hills design concepts, which include some video fly-bys of the town of Tull:
No word on whether or not the designs will still be used but it does give a sense of the atmosphere Howard was originally going for.
The Dark Tower begins with The Gunslinger, which is a western, of sorts. The Gunslinger follows the world’s last gunslinger (kind of like the last Knight of the Round Table) as he pursues a mysterious man in black that holds the secret the gunslinger needs to continue his journey to The Dark Tower, which sits at the center of existence and is on the verge of falling. This first story is simply an introduction to Roland Deschain (the titular gunslinger) and displays how deeply his obsession with the Dark Tower runs. Roland’s world expands a bit in the second book of the series, The Drawing of the Three, which introduces Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes, who become two of Roland’s reluctant companions on his quest. To discuss any further books, however, would venture into spoiler territory.
Speaking of Eddie Dean, we have a bit of a treat for you. Constant Readers who love The Dark Tower are also likely to follow the Marvel Comics adaptation of the property. For the first several arcs of the comic book series, which actually tells the tale of Roland in chronological order, rather than following the trajectory of the books, comic book artist extraordinaire Jae Lee demonstrated his superior artistic skills throughout each and every page. Unfortunately, Lee’s run came to a close before reaching Roland’s new friends, the Ka-Tet of 19. Many readers were disappointed that they never had the chance to see Lee’s vision of these new friends. While we cannot offer a peek at Susannah or Jake, Jae Lee was kind enough to sketch the following commission, which offers a look at Eddie and Oy, as seen through Lee’s eyes:
Yes, it is amazing.
The next step in this long road will be casting and every fan has an idea of who should play which characters that are scattered throughout the series. While casting of the main characters will likely take some time and cause some controversy, I would like to take this time to throw out an actor for a rather small character: Sony, if you are reading this, Alan Alda wouldn’t be a horrible choice for Dandelo. Just saying.
Who would you cast as Roland and the Ka-Tet of 19? Is there a specific scene or character that you can’t wait to see on screen?