Let the word and the legend go before you. Today, on author Stephen King’s 69th birthday, MRC announced it is developing The Dark Tower as a TV series with Sony Pictures, based on the fourth installment of the books series, Wizard and Glass. The feature film adaptation is slated for a February 17, 2017 premiere.
Due to adult themes, The Dark Tower TV show is being developed for cable or a streaming platform, with an eye toward a 2018 premiere. The Dark Tower is based on the novels by King and created for TV by Nikolaj Arcel and Anders Thomas Jensen. Film stars Idris Elba and Tom Taylor have signed on. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Akiva Goldsman, and Jeff Pinkner are executive producing. MRC and Sony Pictures are financing a limited series of between 10 and 13 episodes.
The 2017 movie stars Elba as gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. Tom Taylor plays Jake Chambers.
MRC made its press release through EW. Check it out.
First off, it’s definitely happening.
MRC and Sony Pictures, which is releasing the film, have committed not just to financing a pilot but a full run of between 10 and 13 episodes, depending on how the scripts and story arcs develop. The Dark Tower show will begin shooting in 2017 with plans to premiere it in 2018, ideally around the time the film becomes available on cable or streaming services.
What the producers don’t yet have is a distributor. The darkness of the story rivals that of Game of Thrones, so they will require either a cable or streaming platform (MRC also makes House of Cards for Netflix, so they have a history already.) But MRC is not going to wait for a partner to come aboard before moving forward.
Elba has signed on to appear as older Roland alongside Tom Taylor, 15, who plays Jake Chambers in the film, a boy from present-day New York who harbors a secret, psychic power and is grappling with visions of the tower and the men (and other creatures) who are trying to reach it.
That duo will serve as the framing device for the show’s central story, which takes place many years before the events depicted in the film. Since the series will be Roland’s origin story, a younger actor will be cast to play the aspiring gunslinger as a teenager, back before the realm of Mid-World “moved on” into chaos and bloodshed.
Goldsman will serve as one of the executive producers, along with Jeff Pinkner and Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer (who inspired McConaughey’s spiky, crow-feathered hair in the movie.) The film’s director, Nikolaj Arcel, and co-writer, Anders Thomas Jensen, are working on the script for the show and will be executive producers as well, but another showrunner will be hired to oversee day-to-day operations.
McConaughey’s involvement is a possibility, but not locked in. His character, Walter, is a semi-immortal who wields powerful, ancient magic and is a major element of Roland’s origin as a six-shooting knight, but in King’s books this sorcerer often takes on different names and appearances.
So, the character will be in the show, but he may be inhabiting the shape of another actor.
NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES
Back in Roland’s younger years, the Man in Black was known as Marten Broadcloak, an adviser to Roland’s father, Steven, the ruler of Gilead. (Yes, ironically, the father of Roland is… King Steven.) Even back then, Marten was a ruthless manipulator who, in a gambit to destroy young Roland, manuevers the hot-headed boy into prematurely taking his gunslinger trials against instructor Cort Andrus.
That part of Roland’s tale was partially laid out in King’s original novel, The Gunslinger, and it will form part of the TV series while the bulk of the show will focus on the fourth book in the saga, Wizard and Glass, which told another tale of young Roland and his early tribulations.
Although written in the middle of the series, Wizard and Glass is primarily a prequel that features Roland and his ka-tet of fate-forged allies, including the boy Jake, listening to the story of the gunslinger’s past while preparing for the next leg of their journey.
In this framing device for the book, they are camped within reach of a “thinny,” which is a kind of aurora where reality has eroded and people who draw too close can be consumed like it’s a black hole. Roland tells his new friends of his first encounter with such a thing, unspooling a tale about being sent by his father on a mission to the Barony of Mejis, a distant seaside kingdom in the same dimension as his homeland of Gilead.
As a tribute to King on his 69th anniversary in our world, MRC created this map, overlayed with a quote from the book, which was spoken by Cort to a young Roland.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books? How do you like the sound of The Dark Tower TV series? Will you watch?