A cinematic adaptation of Stephen King's epic fantasy series The Dark Tower has long gestated in Hollywood, moving from studio to studio and from proposed film franchise to planned TV series for nearly a decade. However, after Warner Bros. and HBO failed to bring King's novels to the big and small screen, Sony Pictures have announced that they'll now attempt to adapt King's self-proclaimed magnum opus as both a feature film and a television series.
Deadline reports that Sony Pictures and Media Rights Capital (MRC) have agreed to co-finance The Dark Tower with the hopes of turning King's eight-book saga into a multi-medium franchise. Inspired by The Lord of the Rings and spaghetti westerns, The Dark Tower follows gunslinger Roland Deschain's adventures through an alternate realm. The series' first book The Gunslinger, penned by King in 1982, will be the basis of the feature film.
"I'm excited that The Dark Tower is finally going to appear on the screen,” King said in a statement to Deadline. "Those who have traveled with Roland and his friends in their search for the Dark Tower are going to have their long-held hopes fully realized. This is a brilliant and creative approach to my books."
Dozens of King's novels have successfully transferred to the silver screen, from Carrie and Stand By Me to The Shawshank Redemption and The Shining (although King has long been critical of Stanley Kubrick's version). However, the scope of The Dark Tower has often made it too difficult to realize cinematically. Both J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard toyed with the idea of bringing the series to life – at one point, with Russell Crowe in the leading role – but eventually both directors surrendered the task.
Sony Pictures plans to resurrect screenwriters Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner's 2010 The Dark Tower script for the first installment, however no director or leading actor are attached yet. "There are few projects out there that compare with the scope, vision, complex characters and fully drawn world that Stephen King has created with The Dark Tower," Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman said in a statement. "I am a giant fan. And, as Stephen himself does, we love the direction that Akiva and Jeff have taken."
In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, King admitted that, even though he last published the series' eighth installment The Wind Through the Keyhole in 2012, "I'm never done with The Dark Tower. "The thing about The Dark Tower is that those books were never edited, so I look at them as first drafts," King said. "And by the time I got to the fifth or sixth book, I'm thinking to myself, 'This is really all one novel.' It drives me crazy."