The Dark Tower clock is ticking

Ron Howard, and his partner at Imagine, Brian Grazer, just gave an interview about their twenty-five years working together. 

Of course, the subject of The Dark Tower came up, because the deadline is looming on whether it will go forward at Universal, or possibly somewhere else.

This isn’t exactly an easy no-brainer, despite the fact that Stephen King has a huge built in audience, but Universal just turned down Guilermo Del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness, even with Tom Cruise starring and James Cameron producing, over fears of making a $150 million dollar horror film. (And again, rumor has it Battleship, yes a movie based on the board game, has eaten up at lot of money at the studio.)

Howard’s adaptation of The Dark Tower will be three movies and a TV series to bridge the gap between films, which is being called the most ambitious movie series since Lord of the Rings.

Of course there have been concerns over the budget, even with a seasoned pro like Howard, who has a very consistent track record as am A-list director, and who is also by all accounts a mensch in a world of screaming, egomaniacal idiots.

Deadline Hollywood correspondent Mike Fleming asked Howard how important it is to take “big swings” with a really risky project like The Dark Tower, Howard said, “The Dark Tower seemed like such a good idea to both of us that it became impossible not to try it. It’s impossible to live with ourselves if we don’t take the swing.”

Then Fleming asked why three movies and the TV series? 

“The universe Steve King created is so dimensional and creative. It blends scope, sweep, and adventure with some very personal compelling stories. We could have tried to force all of it into one or two or three movies. It became clear to me that the medium of TV has become so bold and cool, we could use it to our advantage creative and really fulfill the possibilities of this universe of characters King gave us to work with.”

Howard also says the budget cuts “aren’t that deep or that radical,” and that his main screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Batman and Robin), wrote it with costs in mind.

Universal has now set a new deadline for July to get things moving for February 2012, which means we’ll find out very soon if Universal’s gonna pull the trigger or not. 

If not, the rights go back to Howard, Grazer, Goldsman and King, who Fleming reports “are determined to make it regardless.”

And it will certainly be interesting to see how that determination pays off down the road.