It’s been known for a while that The Dark Tower isn’t a straight adaptation of the novels, but a quasi-sequel (and to explain why would spoil the books). With a television series on the way, the movie’s director is wasting no time in confirming that yes, the show will be a part of the same continuity as the books and the movie as well (and it should adhere more closely to the former than the movie).
In an interview with IndieWire The Dark Tower director Nikolaj Arcel explained that his film will serve as an “introduction” to the franchise in spite its status as a sequel, and that the television series will be “totally canon” in how it adapts the events from the first and fourth novels:
“It’s being written… I was part of writing the pilot, like the first season ideas and the pilot and the second episode. It’s gonna be awesome. What was exciting about that, whereas with the film, we were really trying to create an introduction and make a standalone film that could sort of live in itself, but what was also exciting, working on the TV show at the same time, is that is totally canon. We’re going back in the past. It’s very, very closely adhering to the Wizard and Glass novel and parts of The Gunslinger novel. That was exciting to be even more like, ‘Okay, now we’re going to be able to even lift lines directly, or like [write] characters exactly as they are.’ Which, as a fan, was exciting in a different way.”
For those who aren’t concerned with spoilers for the books and are curious as to how the new movie is both a sequel and an adaptation, the nature of The Dark Tower franchise is that the Gunslinger and the Man in Black are stuck in a cycle where one has to destroy the other, and the key plot twist at the end of the final book reveals that in order to ensure that the space-time continuum remains safe, the Gunslinger has to start his quest all over again with a few changes. So the television series will presumably show how things went the first time around – or at least what we presume was the first time – while the movie will cover a new set of events that draw from the earlier cycles. The show is currently slated for a 10-13 episode first season that will feature appearances from the Gunslinger actor Idris Elba.
The Dark Tower will loom over theaters on August 4, 2017. Its cast includes Idris Elba as Roland “The Gunslinger” Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter “The Man In Black” Padick, Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers, Katheryn Winnick as Laurie Chambers, Jackie Earle Haley as Sayre, Fran Kranz as Pimli, Abbey Lee Kershaw as Tirana, Michael Barbieri as Timmy, Claudia Kim as Arra Champignon, José Zúñiga as Dr. Hotchkiss, Alex McGregor as Susan Delgado, Nicholas Hamilton as Lucas Hanson, and De-Wet Nagel as Taheen Tech.
Stephen King Adaptations Hollywood Needs To Get Right
With The Dark Tower and It, two of King’s most famous and beloved works, reaching the big screen, it feels like the gates are opening on a new age of Stephen King adaptations
Already we’ve seen 1) a new Carrie movie, 2) Under the Dome and 11/22/63 get TV adaptations 3) Netflix’s upcoming Gerald’s Game, 4) a TV series based on the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, 5) Josh Boone looks to make Revival his follow-up to X-Men: The New Mutants, 5) a new version of Hearts in Atlantis is in the works (just called Hearts) and 6) a Cujo remake, with the amazing title of C.U.J.O. Even Cell got made, plus a personal favorite of mine The Mist is back in the form of a new Syfy series airing later this year (based on both the original novella and Frank Darabont’s superb 2007 film).
Our age of cinematic universes feels tailor-made for the world-renowned author. King is known not only for his productivity but for how his stories interlock together in the same universe (multiverse, if you want to get specific). His entire oeuvre is connected by characters, locations, and events, all centered around the literal and figurative Dark Tower, the structure and book series sit at the center of King’s worlds. Of course, no one entity owns the rights to all of King’s works, so we won’t be seeing, say, Pennywise the Dancing Clown say hi to Idris Elba’s gunslinger in a movie anytime soon, but it speaks to King’s continued relevance.
There are, of course, the adaptations that are sacrosanct and need to no update, plus others where we are simply waiting to see if they happen. Speaking of Darabont, he delivered a trilogy of amazing King adaptations in my opinion between The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. Rob Reiner also mastered the artform, giving us Stand by Me and Misery. There’s already a perfectly-good The Dead Zone movie and TV show. The Tommyknockers and Desperation got the miniseries treatment in 1991 and 2006, respectively. The latter came with a teleplay by King himself, while the former was announced for a new miniseries back in 2013 along with Rosemary’s Baby, the failure of which may have something to do with the radio silence since the announcement. The Shining is actually not one, with King famously disliking the Stanley Kubrick film enough to make a miniseries of his own to “correct” the record (and a Shining prequel is first on our list).
While some works defy or seek re-adaptation, the breadth of the man’s work means there’s plenty of new stuff to mine in the coming years as well. Click Next to learn which to watch out for!
Honorable mentions: The Dark Half, Dolores Claiborne, Apt Pupil, Dreamcatcher