2017 has become kind of a resurgence for my fellow Virgo writer, 70-year-old Stephen King. Andy Mushietti’s adaptation of King’s It is now a monster hit, becoming the highest grossing horror film of all time. A sequel is on the way as Warner Brothers announced a release date of Sept 6, 2019. There is also a Netflix adaptation coming of one my personal favorite novels Gerald’s Game coming.
So what went wrong with the other highly anticipated King novel, The Dark Tower? Intended to launch a film and television franchise, the first installment was described as a “sequel” to the books. It’s also well-documented that the film had trouble attempting to get from page to screen. Talented directors JJ Abrams and Ron Howard were attached at one point only to bail. I have my personal thoughts as I have read all eight books in the series. Overall, critics hated it. Fans ignored it. But what does the outspoken author think happened? Recently, King sat down with Vulture to share his thoughts on what went wrong with the adaptation.
“The major challenge was to do a film based on a series of books that’s really long, about 3,000 pages. The other part of it was the decision to do a PG-13 feature adaptation of books that are extremely violent and deal with violent behavior in a fairly graphic way. That was something that had to be overcome, although I’ve gotta say, I thought [screenwriter] Akiva Goldsman did a terrific job in taking a central part of the book and turning it into what I thought was a pretty good movie. The TV series they’re developing now … we’ll see what happens with that. It would be like a complete reboot, so we’ll just have to see.”
Reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound like The Dark Tower has much of a future on the big screen. It wouldn’t be the first or the last King adaptation to come up short (looking at you The Mangler). Perhaps TV is really where it belonged at the end of the day. You would be hard-pressed to find someone to argue with a Game of Thrones or Westworld type treatment. Of course, there are two words that King mentions that could also be one of the reasons why The Dark Tower failed. We’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Feel free to share your thoughts below.
10 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