This is one of those ideas that's either going to be crazy successful or an epic failure. NBC Universal just made a deal to turn Stephen King's The Dark Tower saga into three films and a TV series, a lot of which will be written by Akiva Goldsman and directed by Ron Howard.
The news just broke on Deadline:
Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have closed a deal to turn Stephen King's mammoth novel series The Dark Tower into a feature film trilogy and a network TV series, both of which will be creatively steered by the Oscar-winning team behind A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.
Ron Howard has committed to direct the initial feature film, as well as the first season of the TV series that will follow in close proximity. Akiva Goldsman will write the film, and the first season of the TV series. Howard's Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will produce, with Goldsman and the author.
The deal is being compared to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies, except it's going be even bigger:
I spoke with Goldsman and Howard, who have polled enough of their peers to be convinced what they are doing here has never been attempted: using a major studio's film and TV platforms simultaneously to tell a story. It is reminiscent of when Peter Jackson directed three installments of The Lord of The Rings, back to back, so that they could be released in three consecutive years.
"What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history," Howard told me. "The approach we're taking also stands on its own, but it's driven by the material. I love both, and like what's going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there's the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you'd deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We've put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It's fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker."
Considered King's answer to JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth trilogy, The Dark Tower revolves around Roland Deschain, the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, and humanity's last hope to save a civilization that will crumble unless he finds the Dark Tower. Howard and Goldsman describe the world as "an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone."
If they can pull this off (and we hope they can), it sounds like we'll be watching this in some form or another for for the rest of eternity ... and then some.