Why those budget cuts won't hurt Ron Howard's Dark Tower trilogy

The combined movie and TV adaptation of Stephen King's epic fantasy The Dark Tower has recently been sounding a little less, well, epic.

When we last reported on it, director Ron Howard was explaining that the project's start date had been pushed back to next year "due to budget delays and ongoing story development and logistical issues, but Dark Tower is moving forward," which, while hopeful, isn't exactly cause for celebration.

And before that we reported that Universal was picking up the project, but only on the condition that Howard, producer Brian Grazer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman rework the story to fit a lower budget. But while it might sound like the epic scale of the series is in serious danger, according to Howard and Grazer, they always knew the first version of the Dark Tower might not come about and the cuts they'll be making won't be so bad.

In a piece about Howard and Grazer's 25-year partnership, Deadline asked the pair about the state of The Dark Tower. And according to Howard, the budget and timetable that Universal turned down concerned only one possible version that the Dark Tower team was considering.

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.

Grazer added:

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 sounds like they'd never planned for it to be a huge, let's-throw-money-at-this-project-for-no-reason blockbuster, and the lower-budget rewrites will continue along those lines. Which means we're probably not going to miss any big sequences due to lack of money, and that's definitely good news.

The pair also tackled the other big question: Is Javier Bardem still in it? And the answer is a definite "um, we sure hope so." According to 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.

So it all boils down to whether or not Bardem is willing to take what will surely be a pay cut to play the role, whenever the project finally gets rewritten and rebudgeted. What do you think? Do you think he'd be willing to take a lower paycheck for the chance of starring in what may be one of the biggest fantasy franchises of all time?

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