We reported at some length back in September of last year on the audacious plans being hatched by Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsmith and Brian Grazer to turn Stephen King’s 7-novel Dark Tower series into a trilogy of feature films, interspersed with two seasons of a television series. Universal were considering funding the project, mindful of their relatively straightforward links with television (NBC/Universal), even though it was already looking to be an enormous and expensive undertaking.

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.

Source: Deadline

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.