The television adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series has been picked up by HBO after a rocky road toward production.
Unsurprisingly, the fresh attempt reportedly boasts a much lower budget than the original project.
The plan was revealed by producer Brian Gazer in an interview with The Playlist.
“We found a way to cut out $45 million out of the budget without changing the scope and actually giving it a good ending,” he said.
“In the $140 million draft, the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying. Now, we’ve got $45 million, $50 million out of the way and a really satisfying ending. It’s gonna get made.”
The adaptation was originally purchased by Universal with plans to create a trilogy of films and a TV series which would together cover all eight of the books.
The first film was written by Akiva Goldman and would have been directed by Ron Howard.
They had a star lined up as well, with Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) playing the part of Roland Descain, the gunslinger.
Back in May, Universal made a big push to get the project off the ground, but then they backed off their commitment to only the first film, and by the end of summer, the whole project was dead in the water, with the studio finally deciding to completely back out due to budget restrictions.
Now the plan seems to be a mini-series for HBO – the channel doesn’t produce for the silver screen – likely similar to what they are doing with Game of Thones, where each year another book would be adapted into a mini-series. Of course, the Dark Tower books aren’t quite as long or complex as the Song of Ice and Fire stuff, so there would likely only be about 4-5 episodes per ‘season’.
In my opinion, this is likely the best way to adapt this series. I’ve made it no secret in the past that I’m no big fan of Stephen King in general, but if there is one place where he’s done something interesting, it’s in the Dark Tower octology, which is about a strange gunslinger seeking through a mysterious wasteland for a fabled, powerful tower.
There is a bit of gratuitous gore, like all King stories, but for the most part the plot and characters are compelling, or at least intriguing enough that the audience desires to find out more about what is happening. In today’s television environment, this a great formula.
HBO has shown us with Game of Thrones, arguably the best fantasy television series in many years, that they know what they are doing when it comes to fantasy adaptations. So if they think they can pull off a good show with this decreased budget, I believe them.
First, though, they’ll have to decide if they want to keep Howard and Bardem who have both made commitments to other projects in the meantime, and may not even want to be part of the production anymore, now that it’s not going to theaters.
If they do manage to get either of them back, production will likely be delayed for some time while they wait. Otherwise, they could get started as early as spring 2012. For their part, HBO has not yet made any announcements.