Since then, there has been casting news aplenty, including Javier Bardem as the lead character of Roland Deschain. What there wasn’t and apparently what there will never now be, was a firm commitment from Universal, who have now backed out. What seems to have been at issue is firstly (inevitably) the budget for three films and two (albeit brief) seasons of a TV show and secondly the general upfront commitment to such a long-term project, when the likely success or failure of it would not become apparent until much of the money had been committed. Of course Peter Jackson was able to persuade New Line to take a punt on a similarly audacious project with LOTR, but it seems Universal are unconvinced that they have a product of similar commercial viability on their hands.
It may be, as Deadline suggest, that Universal are over-committed on tent-pole releases, with Peter Berg’s Battleship and Keanu Reeves 47 Ronin both apparently clocking in with budgets in the region of $200m. In these constrained times, perhaps Universal cannot justify the risk of too many big-budget projects on their books. Universal, with its NBC partnership, seemed an obvious home for the project and its TV cross-over elements, but they are far from the only possibility available. WB, 20th Century Fox and Paramount all have ties to the small screen and so perhaps Howard et al will head out into the market place and see what support they can drum up.
For the time being though, this one is regrettably on hold.