Universal finally blinks on The Dark Tower

It was big, it was bold, it was a very risky and ambitious gamble, and until Monday, July 18th, it was set up at Universal. 

As you’ve read on TG Daily, Universal had until this month to decide whether it was going to move forward on The Dark Tower franchise or not, and the studio finally passed.

Of course this wasn’t one film Universal said no to, but what would have been a trilogy of movies, with a TV series to fill the gaps in between films.

Ron Howard was going to direct, his long time screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) adapted the series, and Javier Bardem was going to star, but apparently the project was too risky budget wise, and Universal finally turned it down.


As Movieline pointed out, this is “the second geek property” that Universal said no to this year, the first being another ambitious project, Guillermo Del Toror’s At the Mountains of Madness, which couldn’t get off the ground even with the star power of Tom Cruise, and James Cameron producing.


And as Mike Fleming reports on Deadline.com, there’s been talk that Universal would only commit to one film and not the TV series, which was going to be written by Goldsman and Mark Veheiden, a writer and producer on Battlestar Galactica and Heroes. Goldsman also has a production company set up at Warner Brothers, where there’s been some speculation The Dark Tower may eventually land.


As to why Universal passed, Fleming continued that Universal’s “big bets” are Battleship, based on the Milton Bradley game, and 47 Ronin, which stars Keanu Reeves, and both films are supposedly in the neighborhood of some $200 million. 

Insiders at Universal also told Fleming the studio didn’t want to make The Dark Tower at its current budget, and indeed, bringing the budget down was a big concern that delayed the film in the first place.


Of course, there’s gonna be a lot of inevitable Internet armchair quarterbacking about Universal’s decision, about Hollywood not wanting to take any risks, and on and on, but that’s just par for the course. 

There’s never any guarantees with anything, and the Dark Tower could be a huge hit, a huge flop, or somewhere in the middle. 

Who thought coming after sweeping the Oscars with the critically acclaimed movie The Deer Hunter that Michael Cimino would make Heaven’s Gate, a bomb so huge it sunk an entire movie studio? Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twins? Lines around the block, right?

Whether The Dark Tower will ever get to the point where it will either win, lose, or draw at the box-office still remains to be seen.