I know David (our newest writer here at The Daily Rotation) is a huge Stephen King fan, and especially a fan of King’s epic The Dark Tower series. Many of this dedicated legion were righteously pissed when it was announced that Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Akiva Goldmsan (the main person to blame for Batman Forever and Batman & Robin) intended to adapt the series into a trilogy of films, and two seasons worth of television starring Javier Bardem as the main character Roland the Gunslinger.
Now Deadline has the scoop on today’s developments: The series has been put into turnaround by Universal who have long been hesitant of the series’ sure to be large budget, the tenuous availability of Javier Bardem, and the outlandish nature of the story (world hopping, time-hopping, epic fantasy). It seems that everything combined was just too much for Universal to swallow.
Fans have long complained that if done, the series needs to be done right, and after The Da Vinci Code, many believed Howard was not the man for the job. Now, other studios have the opportunity to do what Universal wouldn’t do, and that’s green-light the series to release funds so real work can begin on the series. While Howard and Grazer still have the right to get the film made elsewhere, many insiders feel it will never happen as no studio would be willing to invest the money for the full series, and word is Howard and company are unwilling to make just one film in hopes of getting two more made.
This comes off the heels of Universal putting the Guillermo Del Toro directed version of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, which had major Hollywood player Tom Cruise attached, but was stifled by the reported $150 million production budget, where the deal was Del Toro could deliver his cut, as long as it was R. The simple fact remains that studios will rarely take a $150 million chance on an R-rated film. Especially big, bawdy fantasy and monster-filled movies that they can’t sell to the massive teen audience which accounts for so many theater-goers.
While the move, as a whole, doesn’t spell good tidings for filmmakers trying to make ambitious R-rated films, it goes to show that not every major franchise has the extreme potential to cross over big to mainstream audiences. For genre fans, this is a bad sign, a sign that the studios will stick with only tried and true characters and properties, but even then, some of them will be limited by the budget limitations on the genre.
What d0 you think? Will another studio green-light the project?