Plenty of Stephen King fans are still waiting to see an epic big screen adaptation of the book series The Dark Tower. That’s because the meager attempt to bring the books to life back in 2017 was a total disaster. Clocking in at only 95 minutes, the adaptation didn’t deliver the kind of epic fantasy they’d been hoping to see, and the movie was totally forgettable. If you’re one of the many disappointed fans out there who wished The Dark Tower turned out to be even better, you’re not alone. Producer Ron Howard also ended up being unhappy with the final product.
Speaking with the Happy Sad Confused podcast (via Collider) while making the publicity rounds for the new documentary Pavarotti, filmmaker Ron Howard admitted that there were several shortcomings when it came to the final cut of The Dark Tower. Howard said:
“I think it should’ve been horror. I think that it landed in a place—both in our minds and the studio’s—that it could be PG-13 and sort of a boy’s adventure… I really think we made a mistake not—I mean I’m not sure we could’ve made this movie, but I think if we could’ve made a darker, more hard-boiled look and make it The Gunslinger’s character study more than Jake. I think in retrospect that would’ve been more exciting. We always felt like we were kind of holding back something, and I think at the end of the day it was that.”
Howard has even more insight into the process of bringing The Dark Tower to the big screen than most. Development began on an adaptation of the book series back in 2010 with Ron Howard attached to direct a feature film trilogy that would have involved a connected TV series. It was quite the ambitious project, and it never got off the ground because no studio was ambitious enough to fully finance it. And that’s what resulted in the adaptation going to the other end of the spectrum with an abridged version of the books into a single feature film. Howard laments the fact that they didn’t take the TV route and admits they might have compromised a little too much:
“The other thing might’ve been to just straight-on tackle it as television first. Disappointing because I poured a lot of myself into it, and sometimes this happens on these projects where everybody’s best intentions—you’re all pulling in a direction, and then you sort of say, ‘Was that the right direction?’ And I wouldn’t say it was all compromise. I do think it was just a sense of maybe too much listening to what you think that the marketplace is calling for instead of the essence of what Stephen King was giving us.”
I think we can all agree that The Dark Tower movie we ended up with was the worst direction to take, other than maybe a CBS sitcom adaptation where the Gunslinger moved into a small New York apartment with his mother. But maybe the forthcoming Amazon series adaptation of The Dark Tower, which will act as a prequel to the movie, will treat the source material with some respect.
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